As he scrambled away from pressure, weaving his way this way and that, new American quarterback Skyler Howard deftly avoided two would-be tacklers. He never saw the third.

The blindside hit that Howard took for a 9-yard loss was not a pivotal play during his debut with the Obic Seagulls, in which he threw for three touchdowns and ran for another in a 59-0 rout of the Meiji Yasuda PentaOcean Pirates in the Pearl Bowl tournament.

But it did confirm what he already knew as an American with a pedigree playing in Japan— he has to be just as alert on this side of the Pacific as he was facing Big 12 Conference opponents at West Virginia. Even a lightweight opponent can make heavy hits, like the one he was dealt by Pirates linebacker Atsushi Hagiwara in the second quarter.

“You’re going to take some knocks, it’s football,” Howard said. “I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

In fact, Howard saw the jarring tackle as a positive thing.

“I was glad it happened, actually. Because, the whole time I’m back there running around, I’m thinking, ‘Nothing good ever happens from this. You wouldn’t be doing this in America, why are you doing this?’ It was good for me. I was saying, ‘Hey, this is still football. You can’t be running around like that.’”

Honestly have never heard of this before. American football in Japan? Mind blown.