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American Football: Victim in illegal hit scandal earns double MVP honors

Kwansei Gakuin quarterback Kosei Okuno (3) goes on the attack during his American football team's 37-20 victory over Tokyo's Waseda University in the Koshien Bowl. (Kyodo)

NISHINOMIYA, Japan (Kyodo) -- Kwansei Gakuin quarterback Kosei Okuno, who was hospitalized by an illegal hit that precipitated a national scandal, was named Japan's most valuable college football player and MVP of the college championship game on Sunday.

    In a May exhibition against Nihon University, Okuno was knocked from the game when tackled hard from behind long after releasing the ball. The 20-year-old Okuno overcame being in the spotlight and raised his game.

    In Sunday's Koshien Bowl, his sharp passing and bold runs contributed to Kwansei Gakuin's 37-20 victory over Tokyo's Waseda University.

    After May's controversy, Nihon University head coach Masato Uchida and assistant coach Tsutomu Inoue received lifetime suspensions and were fired over the incident in which one of their players took the coach's instructions to crush opposing players as an order.

    Despite American football's low profile in Japan, the story became part of an ongoing narrative about physical abuse and harassment in a number of sports.

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