AUSTIN, Texas -- The Canadian national junior team jumped out to a 10-0 first half lead and went on to stun top-seeded Team USA 23-17 to capture gold at the International Federation of American Football Under-19 championship in Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas on Saturday night.
The Canadian squad featured McGill University's sophomore quarterback Dallon Kuprowski of Kanata, Ont., and offensive coordinator Patrick Boies, who joined the Redmen coaching staff last December.
The victory avenged a 41-3 loss at the hands of the Americans in the 2009 final at the IFAF U-19 world championship in Canton, Ohio.
"We had one goal and one goal in mind and that was to come back with a gold medal around our neck," said Canada head coach Noel Thorpe. "These guys believed in it and they played 48 minutes (four 12-minute quarters) of solid football. I couldn't be prouder of these guys. “It was a hell of a game. It came down to an onside kick. It doesn’t get any closer than that.”
College F-X Garneau’s Louis-Philippe Simoneau opened the scoring with a 21-yard field goal which gave Canada a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. The scoring play was set up on an interception by Canada’s MVP Kevin McGee, who ended the night with two picks and five tackles, and gave Canada the ball at the USA 40-yard line. The big play on the drive was a spectacular 22-yard diving reception by Doug Corby from former Burlington Stampeders teammate Will Finch which gave Canada first and goal at the USA 7-yard line.
“I’m happy for the team,” said McGee, who will be attending Champlain College in Lennoxville this fall. “It’s an honor to be named MVP but this was a team victory. We worked really hard for two weeks. We’re really happy right now. This week has been the best experience of my life. I met some new people... worked really hard and I think I’m a better football player after this.”
The No. 2 seeded Canadians took a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter when Alexandre Huard of Laval, Que., returned a punt 59 yards for a touchdown with 8:24 left in the half. Huard did not fare as well on the next punt, fumbling a fair-catch at the Canada 14. The ball caromed back to the 35 before Darius Mosley fell on it for Team USA. A pass interference penalty on the next play moved the ball to the 20-yard line and quarterback Brayden Scott connected with Demarcus Ayers for a 15-yard pass. Scott hit Ayers again three plays later for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 10-7 with 4:39 left in the half.
Canada took a 16-7 advantage on the opening series of the third quarter as Finch marched his troops 81 yards on five plays, capped by Christopher Amoah of Lachine, Que., who snared a screen pass and broke multiple tackles on his way to a 26-yard TD. A bad snap on the conversion attempt maintained the lead at nine.
Th Americans answered on their next drive, moving 78 yards on 11 plays before Scott hit Rodney Adams for a 12-yard TD toss, trimming the score to 16-14 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
Canada made it 23-14 with a 64-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter on a 10-yard run by Mercer Timmis of Burlington, Ont. The TD was set up on back-to-back passing plays from Vanier College teammates Hugo Richard to Alexandre Savard.
“I think we did what we wanted to do running the football,” said Thorpe. “We established ourselves at the line of scrimmage and they did a heck of a job – and our running backs as well. Our quarterbacks did a good job managing the game and also running with the ball.
“It’s exactly what we thought it would be. We had to control the tempo of the game and we knew it had to happen up front with the offensive line and that was our game plan going into the tournament and we kept with it all the way through.”
Canada appeared to have iced the contest when Scott was intercepted for the second time on the night by McGee to end the next drive. They drove to the US 26-yard line before a poor shotgun snap rolled all the way back to the Canada 45 where it was recovered by Team USA's Tyler Willis. A personal foul penalty moved the ball to the 30 and Cameron Van Winkle drilled a 43-yard field goal to cut the lead to 23-17 with 1:47 to go.
With no time-outs remaining, the Americans attempted an onside kick and appeared to field the ball before it traveled the required 10 yards, which would have turned over possession but the Canadians were ruled to be offside on the kick, so the play was taken over again. On the re-kick, Canada recovered at their own 24 and ran out the clock.
All 12 games of the tournament are archived at www.YouTube.com/usafootballeducation.