Auch wenn statistisch die USA am Ende die Nase klar voran hatte – 20 zu 6 first downs und 319 zu 139 total yards – nach Punkten ging es dank einer starken Defensivleistung von "The World" nur ganz knapp her. Am Ende hatte die Weltauswahl sogar noch die Möglichkeit das Spiel völlig auf den Kopf zu stellen.
Dem World Team gelang es als erste Mannschaft überhaupt gegen die US-Junioren Touchdowns zu erzielen. Bisher hatte sich der US-Nachwuchs immer schadlos gehalten. Die Touchdowns erzielten mit Tevaun Smith und Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren zwei Kanadier. Ein Comeback-Versuch des World Teams im letzten Viertel konnte von der amerikanischen Defense gestoppt werden.
"Ich bin unglaublich stolz auf diese Burschen", sagte der kanadische World Team Head Coach Greg Marshall nach dem Spiel. "Meine Mannschaft hat bis zum letzten Play gekämpft und nie aufgegeben."
Von den fünf Österreichern kamen hauptsächlich die Offensive Liner Aleksandar Milanovic (Vikings) und Michael Habetin (Raiders) zum Einsatz und danach – so der vor Ort weilende Verbandspräsident Michael Eschlböck – von allen Seiten viel Lob für ihr Spiel. Receiver Laurinho Walch wurde zwar angespielt, konnte aber keinen catch machen, Runningback Andreas Hofbauer (Raiders) kam in der Offense nicht zum Einsatz, Linebacker Jakob Baran (Dragons) war backup in der Defense der Weltahuswahl, die eindeutig an dem Tag ihre Stärke war.
Eschlböck: "Österreich in aller Munde"
AFBÖ-Präsident Michael Eschlböck war persönlich vor Ort in Texas, um sich selbst ein Bild von der Leistung des World Teams zu machen und vor allem um wichtige Gespräche im Hinblick auf das bevorstehende Saison-Highlight im Sommer, die Weltmeisterschaft in Österreich, zu führen: "Österreich ist hier in Texas in aller Munde. Unsere Spieler haben sich hervorragend präsentiert und alle beeindruckt. Auch die Weltmeisterschaft ist Gesprächsthema. Das war wirklich großartig!"
Team USA vs. The World 21:14
02. Februar 11 | 02:30 MET
Westlake High School | Austin, TX
TEAM USA vs. THE WORLD LIVE
AUSTIN, TEXAS — The difference between the United States and the rest of the world when the sport known internationally as American football brought the two together proved to be a slim seven points at Westlake High School in Texas.
Team USA, the 19-and-under roster of 45 college-bound standouts assembled by USA Football, defeated the World Team, selected from eight countries by the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) 21:14 in unseasonably frigid Texas temperatures.
Team USA surrendered its first touchdown in five outings since the program began in 2009, giving up a kickoff return and reception for touchdowns as the World Team, led by Canadian head coach Greg Marshall, showed that players from American Samoa to Sweden and Austria to Japan can excel on the gridiron.
"There’s really nothing that compares with this experience, there’s nothing that’s even close," said Team USA Head Coach Darren Allman from his high school’s home stadium. "There couldn’t be a better cultural experience for us and when you put on top of that being able to be on the same field with players from all over the world, for us in our profession, it doesn’t come any better than that. It’s been an invaluable experience for me and our other coaches."
Team USA raced to a 21-6 lead by the third quarter, steadily scoring seven points in each quarter before the World Team threatened a late and improbable comeback that fell just short.
"They are as good of people I have ever coached," said World Team head coach Marshall. "In one short week we have become very close and really bonded as a team. Yes we want to win the game, but we also want to have a great experience and come away with some lifelong friends.
Our kids played hard all the way through. I am very proud of this team."
Team USA marched downfield on a decisive opening drive and put seven points on the board, only for the World Team to hit straight back as the second annual game got off to a thrilling start.
After Aaron Green (James Madison, TX/Nebraska) had returned the opening kickoff to midfield, quarterback Kiehl Frazier (Shiloh Christian, AR/Auburn) and University of Texas-bound running back Joe Bergeron (North Mesquite, TX) both scrambled for first downs, but the World team defense made the going tough. Joel Seutter (Canada / University of Saskatchewan) came up with a sack and Beck Coulter (American Samoa / SMU) stuffed the run up the middle.
The U.S. patiently advanced to the two-yard line and Savon Huggins (St Peters Prep, NJ / Rutgers) took a direct snap into the end zone for a touchdown and a seven-point lead after Will Monday (Flowery Branch, GA/Duke) tagged on the extra point.
Four teams had tried and failed to score a touchdown against the U.S. Under-19 national team assembled by USA Football, but in the fifth game, the World Team breached the American’s end zone to make history. Where previous U.S. opponents France, Mexico and Canada in the 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship and the 2010 World Team had failed before them, the 2011 edition raced to pay dirt. MVP Tevaun Smith (Canada / Chaminade College High School) returned the kickoff following the U.S. touchdown 79 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown. A botched high snap led to kicker Felix Faubert-Lussier (Canada/Spartiates de Vieux-Montreal) having to attempt a pass that fell beyond a leaping receiver in the end zone, leaving the World Team trailing 7:6.
The second Team USA possession stalled when a Frazier pass fell incomplete on fourth down after the American Samoan combination of Tavita Katina (Fa’asao Marist High School/Hawaii) and Coulter held the Americans‘ power running game in check.
When the World Team offense finally took the field, running back Steven Lumbala (Canada / University of Calgary) and slot back Jake Harty (Canada / Henry Wisewood High School) earned first downs. But Japanese rusher Shun Yokota (Chuo University) was twice stopped for a loss with Kris Harley (Warren Central, IN / Virginia Tech) and Graham Stewart Xavier, CT/Florida) stuffing the run and the World was forced to punt.
Cody Keith (Cheshire Academy, CT/East Carolina) came in under center but Team USA fumbled away possession and Katina recovered, giving the World Team the ball in prime real estate at the 15-yard mark. The home defense stepped up as defensive back Wayne Lyons (Dillard, FL/Stanford) held Lumbala in check for a seven-yard loss. The World Team then attempted a 41-yard field goal, which was blocked by defensive back Josh Atkinson (Granada-Livermore, CA/Notre Dame).
The inspirational Samoan linebacker Katina was helped off field and would not return, briefly distracting the World Team defense enough for Bergeron to race 56 yards clear on a fake punt for a touchdown and a 14:6 lead.
The World Team picked up a crucial third down in reply and a screen pass from Ben Rossong (Canada/Sackville High School) to Faubert-Lussier became a longer gain as a result of a late hit out of bounds by Avery Walls (Eagle’s Landing Christian, GA/Cal). The screen pass from Rossong this time to Lumbala was proving an effective weapon and earned 13 more yards, but the U.S. defense again held to force a 32-yard field goal that sailed wide left of the uprights, leaving the World Team still trailing by eight points at halftime.
On its second possession of the third quarter, Team USA extended the lead to 21:6 when the third quarterback to see action Kevin Hogan (Gonzaga, DC / Stanford) dumped a screen pass to Team USA MVP Bergeron, who ended the game with 118 yards on 15 carries, and he raced away 19 yards to score.
The World Team went to the air in reply, but an ambitious bomb by Rossong was intercepted by Jabriel Washington (Trinity Christian Academy, TN/Alabama).
"Offensively the third quarter wasn’t our best," admitted coach Marshall. "I thought we were a little inconsistent. We made some big plays, but unfortunately we just didn’t have a field goal team."
Just when the game seemed to be slipping out of the grasp of the World Team after German quarterback Marco Ehrenfried (Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns) had been intercepted, the threat of a late comeback emerged.
Thomas Girard (Canada/Elans de College Francois-Xavier) came up with an interception in his own end zone and returned the ball to the U.S. 46. The drive seemed to have stalled on a punt but Lumbala forced a fumble on the return and Thiel recovered on the Team USA 40-yard line.
Rossong found Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren (University of Saskatchewan) leaping high in the end zone and the Canadian receiver came down with the ball and six more points for the World Team. The U.S. advantage was reduced to a single score when Rossong, who ended the game with 87 passing yards, hit Smith for a successful two-point conversion to trail 21:14 with 2:41 remaining.
Coulter came up with an interception at his own 45-yard line with five seconds remaining as Team USA attempted to run out the clock. But the fairytale comeback the World Team hoped for came up short as Rossong was unable to reach the end zone with a Hail Mary pass as time expired.
Team USA vs. The World 21:14
02. Februar 11 | 02:30 MET
Westlake High School | Austin, TX
USA: Savon Huggins 3 run (Will Monday kick), 7:02
WORLD: Tevaun Smith 79 kick return (pass failed), 6:41
USA: Joe Bergeron 56 run (Will Monday kick), 7:49
USA: Joe Bergeron 13 pass from Kevin Hogan (Will Monday kick), 4:06
WORLD: Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren 40 pass from Ben Rossong (Smith from Rosson), 2:41
US: Kiehl Frazier 10-48, Joe Bergeron 15-118, Savon Huggins 6-10, Kevin Hogan 3-41, Kenny Williams 6-21, Cody Keith 3-(-3), Aaron Green 1-(-4), Connor Floyd 1-(-4).
World: Steven Lumbala 9-36, Shun Yokota 3-4, Viavia Manuma 1-2, Ben Rossong 9-(-11).
US: Kiehl Frazier 4-7-1-40, Cody Keith 1-3-0-4, Kevin Hogan 5-6-1-52.
World: Ben Rossong 4-14-1-87, Marco Ehrenfried 1-3-1-7.
US: Conner Floyd 3-36, Tacoi Sumler 3-15, Jaxon Shipley 1-14, Joe Bergeron 1-13, Savon Huggins 1-11, Devon Cajuste 1-3.
World: Jake Harty 3-25, Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren 1-40, Steven Lumbala 1-29.