Japan’s offense posted 17 first half points and linebacker Kevin Coghlan returned an interception 27 yards for a score to stake Japan to an early 24:0 lead en route to a 27:6 win over France in Game 2 of the 2012 IFAF U19 World Championship at Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas.
Coghlan earned Japan MVP honors for his play on Saturday. In addition to the touchdown he recorded one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and averaged 40.5 yards on four punts.
"We are happy to be going into the semifinals," said Colghan. "Winning this game is very important but winning the next game is even more important."
Japan advances to the next round on July 4 for what could be a repeat of the 2009 semi final clash with their victors three years ago Canada, who meet Sweden at 6pm CT / 7pm ET tonight. France will play the losers of that game on July 3.
"We were not able to play at their speed and we only had three practices before we arrived here so we knew it would be tough," said France coach Olivier Moret. "The good thing is that we were much better in the second half and we were the second half. We’re going to prepare in a better way for the second game."
After three-and-outs by both teams to start the game France failed to pick up a first down on its second series and a 20-yard punt into a strong breeze set Japan up at the France 33. Japan settled for a 22-yard field goal from Nanami Ariwa for a 3:0 lead with 2:24 to go in the first quarter. The drive featured a 14-yard completion from Kyogo Kishimura to Satoshi Sagino and a 12-yard run by James Takada.
French miscues set up the next to Japan scores. On France’s initial play of the next drive Coghlan stepped in front of a Mathias Soler pass and returned it 25 yards for a score to extend Japan’s lead to 10:0 at the 2:04 mark of the first quarter.
On the first play of the next series France fumbled and Japan recovered at the France 22-yard line. After a false start to start the drive, Japan moved 27 yards in four plays and pushed the lead to 17:0 on a Takada 1-yard run with five seconds left in the opening quarter.
France ran off the first five minutes of the second quarter on the ensuing drive and moved the ball to midfield before stalling and punting the ball back to Japan with 7:03 left in the second quarter.
Japan took over at its own 17-yard line and back-up quarterback Saeki Ryunosuke orchestrated an 11-play 83-yard drive that was capped by Sagino’s second rushing touchdown, this one from 15 yards out, to up Japan’s lead to 24:0 with 1:37 left in the half.
France opted to play into the wind in the second half. Japan stretched the lead to 27:0 on a 38-yard field goal by Ariwa with 5:13 to go in the third quarter.
Following the field goal France put together its first sustained drive of the day. Soler picked up 37 yards on a quarterback scramble and Japan aided the French effort with a 15-yard facemask penalty before running back Nicolas Khandar broke loose on a 26-yard touchdown run with 1:50 to go in the third quarter to cut the Japan lead to 27:6 after a blocked PAT attempt.
France looked to have caught a break early in the fourth quarter when Japan fumbled a punt and it was recovered by France’s Maxime Venot Petit at the Japan 23. But Khandar had the ball knocked loose on the next play and Japan took over at its own 15 to end the threat.
Safety Carl Tembo was named France’s MVP after posting eight tackles, including seven
U-19 IFAF World Chamionship Japan vs. France 27:6 (10:0/14:0/3:6/0:0) June 30th 2012 11:30, Burger Stadium Austin,TX