American Football International

Austria Drowns France in Graz; Advance to Face Germany in Final!

Heavy rain and the Austrian defense stymie the French

photos via Herb Kratky & Lupy Persiani

Nearly 10,000 fans turned out UPC Arena to watch the Austrian National team exact revenge  on France in a deluge on Wednesday evening in Graz, Austria. The French defeated Austria in the 2011 World Championships three years ago and, coming off a 65-0 drubbing of Denmark, the French were considered the favorite by many. Butt the Austrians, with bend-but-don’t-break defense and an efficient offense, had other plans.

The 10,000 loud fans chant for the victors:

The win boosts Austria to it’s first appearance in a European final, this year’s 2014 Eat the Ball European Championship Final. They will face-off against arch-rival and reigning champions Germany. These European titans will meet Saturday, June 7th at 7 pm CET and 1 pm EST in Vienna, Austria.

THE ACTION

Austria came out of the gate fast. Running back Andreas Hofbauer picked up a few first downs before a deep pass from quarterback Christopher Gross to Clemens Erlsbacher put Austria in the red-zone. On the ensuing down, Hofbauer broke loose from a French tackler for 19 yards and the days first score. Austria strikes first,  7-0.

Heavy rain and the Austrian defense stymied the French offense.  After a three-and-out and punt, Austria was on the move again. On the first play of the drive Hofbauer tore around the near left side of the Austrian line going untouched for a spectacular 72-yard touchdown run.

At this time the sky fully opened up the downpour commenced. Amid the deluge both team’s offensives struggled to move the chains. French quarterback Perez Mattison was intercepted by Markus Krause. Austria’s offense failed to move the ball and traded punts with the French on three consecutive possessions. The French defense began to dominate at the line of scrimmage and was putting Christopher Gross under tremendous pressure. As the first quarter ended the UPC Arena began to look like a swampland.

The rain eased in the second quarter, and Austria had to start a drive at their own 1 yard line after a strong punt by the French. After failing to convert, the Austrians punted and gave up a great return to the dangerous French returner Guillaume Rioux. This allowed France to get in field goal range with 50 seconds left in the half. A successful 42-yard field goal by Boris Bede cut lead to 14-3 as both teams went to the locker rooms.

The rain grew stronger once again as the second half got underway.

The French drove into field goal range and again brought Boris Bede in for a try. The kick from 47 yards sailed through the uprights, but was called back. The Austrians called a time-out just before the snap. On the next play the try went to the left and was no good. The Austrian offense went right to work, scoring on a quick 55 yard touchdown pass from Christopher Gross to Laurinho Walch. Austria 21 France 3.

After another stop by the Austrian defense, the home team widened their lead on quite a strange play. Receiver Manuel Thaller caught a pass that had been deflected off on a French defender in the end zone. 28-3 Austria.

Both teams failed to move the ball much in the fourth quarter before, in a last ditch effort, France scored with 58 seconds left in the game on pass from Mattison to Franck Bozec. The PAT failed and that was the final. Austria 28 France 9.

RAIN, RAIN GO AWAY

The rain and mistakes cost the French. Midway thru the game the French had accumulated 11 penalties for 100 yards against 2 for 20 yards to their opponent.

The weather affected France’s passing attack. Perez Mattison was 18/49 (36.7%) for 236 yards, and one TD (late in the game) with one INT, However, French receivers dropped many passes that were on target. The conditions do not fully absolve the French as the Austrian quarterback Christopher Gross was 10 of 18 throws for 158 yards and 2 TDs.

RUNNING BACK BATTLE?

Austrian running back Andreas Hofbauer overshadowed the French league MVP Stephen Yepmo. Hofbauer out gained (224 yards to 55 yards) and out carried Yepmo (33 carries, 11 carries).

CONCLUSION

After a tremendous showing against the Danes, this performance by the French leaves little to be desired. Taking nothing away from the Austrians highly motivated, talented, and efficient squad,  ‘Les Bleus’ were capable of so much more in this tournament.

The French will face Finland Saturday at  2 pm CET, 8 am EST in the Bronze Medal Game of the 2014 European World Championships.

POSTGAME INTERVIEWS

Austria’s Head Coach Jakob Dieplinger:

“We have a very strong team France expected, especially on a strong D-Line. Our focus was on quick to start and quick to arrive at scores.And we succeeded. In the games before that, we had to find an offensive rhythm at the beginning of our problems. Our whole focus is now directed to the final against Germany, which we are very pleased.”

France Head Coach Larry Legault :

“We were not surprised that the Austrians have played, but have about how much they played. The early touchdowns from Austria before the heavy rain that has greatly hampered both Offenses, Austria has played into their hands. We must defeat now put away and want to get a medal against Finland. “

Full Statistics: HERE

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