Austria defeats Team USA to become first European nation to win World Juniors medal

Austria became the first European team to win a medal in the history of the IFAF World Junior Championships and to beat the United States as they recorded a famous 32-25 victory at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta.

Wide receiver Leonhard Foidl reeled in two touchdowns, a two-point conversion and the game MVP award, while quarterback Michael Sazabo completed 24 of 32 pass attempts for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns.

USA almost scrapped their way back in a dramatic final minute. Matt Jung returned a deflected punt for a touchdown and then recovered an onside kick with 34 seconds remaining, but the Americans were unable to tie the game and turned the ball over at midfield with six seconds on the clock.

“This is awesome,” said Austria head coach Roman Floredo, coaching his last game in charge of Austria’s junior national team. “I’m so proud of the guys and it’s a good ending for me to finish with a victory.

“We didn’t play our best game, and the fight was gone a bit in the first half because we’d been here to compete for the gold medal, but we did enough to win.”

The United States struck first when, after Oliver Vav Dyke had returned Austria’s second straight punt 51 yards, a Kamron Jackson catch took the ball to within five yards of the end zone and Anthony Luna hit Layton Duncan for the game’s opening touchdown. A cleverly disguised fake extra point saw holder Jung run for two points to open an 8-0 lead.

Photo: James Maclennan

George Milchev recovered a fumble to reclaim possession for USA, but the drive ended with a 44-yard field goal attempt from Rhett Armstrong falling short.

Austria moved steadily downfield in response and Leonhard Foidl broke two tackles on a 35-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to a point after Lorenz Kriwak’s extra point.

Austria grabbed to lead on the next USA play in response as Luna threw a pass into the chest of Metteo Hoppel, who returned the pick six untouched with 16 seconds remaining in the first quarter for a 14-8 lead.

Felix Kantner tiptoed down the right sideline for a 15-yard touchdown and a 20-8 lead after Michael Szabo had found Jonas Jan Dachs-Wiesi for a two-point conversion pass. USA reduced the arrears with a 24-yard Armstrong field goal just before halftime.

A safety earned Austria a 24-11 lead then at the start of the fourth quarter, Szabo hit Foidl for his second touchdown of the game and the pair also connected on a two-point conversion.

Oliver Van Dyke’s receiving touchdown dented the Austrian lead and the deflected punt returned for a touchdown by Jung made for a nervous last 34 seconds, but there was no denying the reigning European champions their victory celebrations.

Photo: James Maclennan

“We knew we were playing a good football team, and they came out better and took advantage of our mistakes and beat us,” said Jung who was the clear MVP of the American team. He finished with 10 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery returned for a touchdown and an onside kick recovery, in addition to his two-point conversion run.

“We had a fake play for if they had seven coming off the edge and I saw them coming heavy off the edge, so I just took it and scored from there,” he said of that scoring dash.

Recalling his touchdown, Jung added:

“Everyone was trying to get away from the ball, but I took a chance, gathered it up and managed to get all the way to score.”

Download the Statistics Gamebook here: G10 2024 IFAF U20 – Austria vs USA – 30Jun2024

Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North