The 2018 Pearl Bowl Tournament culminated in the Tokyo Dome early this morning for those of us on the east coast, pitting Skyler Howard and the Obic Seagulls against the IBM Big Blue in a rematch of the 2017 Pearl Bowl championship game. The Seagulls narrowly escaped last year with a 29-27 victory over the Big Blue, but this year - with Howard under center - they were out for blood.
Obic marched downfield late in the first quarter, allowing running back Asaki Mochizuki to finish off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown to put the Seagulls up 7-0. Moments later, Howard connected with Noriaki Kinoshita, his go-to receiver, on a 30 yard touchdown pass to give Obic a two touchdown league over the Big Blue.
IBM couldn’t seem to get anything going on offense and was forced to punt, pinning the Seagulls deep in their own territory. Big Blue defensive lineman Charles Tuaau capitalized on the opportunity and sacked Howard in the endzone for a safety, giving IBM what would be their only points of the game.
Howard started the second half off with a 10 yard touchdown pass to tight end Holden Huff to go up 21-2, and running back Taku Lee iced the game with a 9-yard touchdown in the closing minutes of the third quarter to give us our final score of 28-2.
Following the game, Howard was crowned the Pearl Bowl MVP, marking the first time an American player has won the award.
The Smoking Musket will continue to follow Howard’s adventures in Japan, and all the X-League action, when the regular season kicks off this Fall.