Using a brilliant second half of football, Team France overcame a seven point deficit to defeat Austria 28-14 and capture their first ever European title in winning the 2018 IFAF European Championships in Vantaa, Finland Saturday.
Trailing 14-7 at the half, France staged an outstanding second half offensive display while the defense shut down the vaunted Austrian running game.
Team France opened the scoring though in a first half that resembled a chess match between the two head coaches France’s Patrick Esume and Shuan Fatah from Austria.
Game MVP, French quarterback Paul Durand connected with Andrew James in the first quarter to give France a 7-0 lead.
But Austria responded as the Austrian offensive line started opening up huge holes and running back Sandro Platzgummer who had played brilliantly all tournament long, found a gap and raced 41 yards to tie the game up at 7-7. The Austrian defense continued to dominate while quarterback Alexander Thury caught France in one on one coverage against huge wide receiver Bernhard Seikovits throwing it to him in the corner of the end zone to give Austria a 14-7 lead.
France set the tone on their opening drive of the second half driving to the Austrian 44 yard line and then Durand handed the ball off the running back Jason Aguemon on a draw play who got outside and scampered down the sideline to score the tying touchdown with three minutes gone in the third quarter.
Then, with Austria now unable to move the ball, France took over again on their own 37 yard line with just over seven minutes left int he quarter. Durand mixed up his play calling driving France down to t Austria’s one yard line and found Jerome Valbon all alone for the go ahead touchdown.
The Team France defense kept playing brilliant football and France took over again, at the 10 minute mark of the fourth quarter. Durand engineered a 75 yard, clock-eating, five minute long drive capping it with a beautiful 20 yard touchdown pass to Jefferson Alexandre to extend the lead to 28-14.
Austria’s offense simply could not move the ball after that. Despite two possessions in the final five minutes, including getting the ball with a minute and a half after an interception, Austria’s offense was unable to find the end zone. A final incompletion with a minute left from Thury to Adrian Platzgummer sealed the historic win for France.