Milano Seamen defend Italian title, defeat Bolzano Giants in 2018 Italian Bowl

The Milano Seamen came from behind to win their second straight Italian championship and the fourth in five years as they downed the Bolzano Giants 28-14 in the 2018 Italian Bowl.

Milano capped an undefeated 12-0 season in Italy but had to erase an 11 point first quarter deficit to do it.

The Giants did not make this victory easy, taking an early lead and not relinquishing it until the third quarter.

Seamen quarterback Luke Zahradka completed 17 of 29 passes for 250 yards and one touchdown and scored two more on the ground. Danilo Bonaparte scored on a three yard pass from Zahradka while Stefano di Tunisi kicked two field goals and two extra points while adding a two-point conversion.

Danilo Bonaparte Photo: Corrado Benedetti

For Bolzano, Jon Brown threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns, completing 23 of 45 passes with Mark Simone and Marco Bonacci both scoring.

The game did not start well for Milano though as Zahradka fumbled on the very first possession on his own 14 yard line. One play later, Brown hit Bonacci to give Bolzano a 7-0 lead with only a minute gone in the game.

Shaking his own miscue off, Zahradka marched the Seamen down to the Bolzano six yard line and di Tunisi kicked a field goal to make it 7-3 in favor of the Giants.

Brown responded on the following series. Starting from his own 18 yard line, he engineered a 15 play, 82 yard drive, finishing it with a seven yard touchdown pass to Simone and Bolzano took a 14-3 lead into the second quarter.

Milano pulled to within three points midway through the second quarter as Zahradka connected with Bonaparte on a three yard touchdown pass finishing a 63 yard drive to close the gap to 14-11.

The Giants came close on their next drive, reaching the Milano 11 yard line with less than 10 seconds left, but a Brown pass attempt to Vincenzo Gregorio  fell short and Bolzano took a 14-11 into the break.

Bolzano WR Marco Bonacci Photo: Corrado Benedetti

That was as close to scoring again that the Giants came as Milano’s defense stiffened in the second half.

Meanwhile, Zahradka engineered two third quarter scoring drives, carrying the ball in from one himself and then maneuvering the Seamen into field goal range from where di Tunisi kicked a 45 yard field goal.

Leading 21-14 heading into the fourth quarter, the Seamen mounted another attack. This time Zahradka drove his team down to the Giants 15 yard line and then found a seam and raced into the end zone to give Milano a two score lead, 28-14.

Bolzano took over the ball with over eight minutes left, plenty of time to score. But despite owning the ball for more than five minutes, Brown and the Giants offense could not get past the Milano 24 yard line. Brown three three straight incomplete passes and when the Seamen took over with three minutes left, they played perfect ball control football  never handing the ball back.

Zahradka ended the game by taking a knee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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