ASHLAND — Shunsuke Wada caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Shoma Taniguchi midway through the fourth quarter and the Japan All-Stars held off Ashland the rest of the way for a 28-21 victory in the highest-scoring Pacific Rim Bowl ever Friday night at Walter A. Phillips Field.

ASHLAND — Shunsuke Wada caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Shoma Taniguchi midway through the fourth quarter and the Japan All-Stars held off Ashland the rest of the way for a 28-21 victory in the highest-scoring Pacific Rim Bowl ever Friday night at Walter A. Phillips Field.

The exhibition win was Japan's fourth straight and fifth overall in the 10-game series, which dates back to 1988. Ashland put up its best fight since the 1999 PRB, however, tying the game at 21 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

"What a great game regardless of the score," Ashland head coach Charlie Hall said. "I'm always disappointed when we don't win a game — I guess I need to be realistic about some of the mistakes that were made that are very correctable."

One of those mistakes, a fumble on a punt return, set up Japan's first touchdown, a 15-yard Taniguchi-to-Wada hook-up.

Ashland scored first on Matt Dierks 22-yard pass to Lewis Sebrell on the Grizzlies' opening drive. Sebrell led Ashland with 118 rushing yards, 41 receiving yards and two TDs, while Dierks completed 14 of 23 passes for 167 yards, one score and no interceptions.

Two Japan scores followed, and Ashland tied the game on Julian Ewald's 19-yard spin-and-burst with 2:34 to go in the first half. Japan reclaimed the lead on Masaki Matsubara's 29-yard touchdown pass to Yusuke Sagehari with 32 seconds left in the half.

Wada caught four passes for 102 receiving yards and three scores while Matsubara had five catches for 85 yards. On the decisive play, Wada caught Taniguchi's pass in stride down the right sideline on third-and-11.

"The was the best pass for our team," Japan coach Toshio Sakurama said, through an interpreter.

Sebrell's second score, a 14-yard run, opened the fourth quarter. Ashland then stalled on its last two drives, failing to move the ball beyond their own 45. The Grizzlies' last gasp was thwarted when Dierks was drilled from behind on a fourth-and-10 pass with 42 seconds to go.

Japan All-Stars 28, Ashland 21

At Walter A. Phillips Field

Japan 0 21 0 7 —28

Ashland 7 7 0 7 —21

A — L. Sebrell 22 pass from Dierks (C. Sebrell kick)

J — Wada 15 pass from Taniguchi (Ohnishi kick)

J — Wada 4 pass from Kasuya (Ohnishi kick)

A — Ewald 19 run (C. Sebrell kick)

J — Matsubara 29 pass from Sagehari (Ohnishi kick)

A — L. Sebrell 14 run (C. Sebrell kick)

J — Wada 77 pass from Taniguchi (Ohnishi kick)

TEAM STATISTICS

Jap Ash

First Downs 13 16

Rushes-Yards 27-105 31-154

Passing Yards 207 167

Comp-Att-Int 12-27-0 14-23-0

Total Yards 312 321

Punts 7-35.0 7-40.4

Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-1

Penalties-yards 1-10 3-19

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING

Japan — Kitagawa 7-70, Takahashi 3-31, Matsubara 7-14, Suzuki 1-4, Taniguchi 4-0, Tsuji 1-(-3), Wada 1-(-4), Sagehari 3-(-7).

Ashland — L. Sebrell 14-118, Ewald 4-24, Dierks 11-9, Hutchinson 2-3.

PASSING

Japan — Taniguchi 4-11-0 112, Sagehari 6-11-0 79, Kasuya 2-5-0 16.

Ashland — Dierks 14-23-0 167.

RECEIVING

Japan — Matsubara 5-85, Wada 4-102, Kitagawa 2-15, Setoyam 1-5.

Ashland — C. Sebrell 5-64, L. Sebrell 3-41, Hogeland 2-50, Gaviglio 2-11, Hutchinson 1-2, Gordon 1-(-1).

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456, ext. 224, or e-mail joe.zavala@dailytidings.com