The Bolzano Giants came from behind three times in Parma, Italy, scoring a late touchdown to defeat the Parma Panthers 30-25 and make their second trip to the Italian championship game in three years.
Two years ago, Bolzano downed the Panthers in the semifinals to reach the 2016 Italian Bowl against the Milano Rhinos.
The Giants fell behind four times, the first time on a first quarter 42 yard field goal by Parma kicker Matteo Felli.
Bolzano responded with quarterback Jon Brown connecting with receiver Vincenzo Gregorio to give the Giants a 7-3 lead.
Parma moved the ball into field goal range on the next series and Felli made good again, narrowing the gap to 7-6. Then Parma’s offense led by quarterback Tommaso Monardi, found the end zone as Avali Malpeli scored to give the host team a 13-7 halftime lead.
Giants defensive lineman Denis Bilcari picked up a fumble by Monardi, after Parma had gained possession on an interception. He raced 29 yards to the end zone to give Bolzano a 14-13 lead. Parma answered with Felli’s third field goal of the game, retaking the lead, 16-14.
Bolzano receiver Mark Simone gave the Giants back the lead on a beautiful 75 yard touchdown pass from Brown and the quarterback added the two-point conversion and the Giants went back out in front, 22-16.
Felli added another field goal and then Panthers linebacker Brett McMakin, seeing duty at running back, first bulled his way down to the one yard line and then scored on the next play to put the Panthers back out in the lead, 25-22.
However, Brown marched his team deep into Parma territory and then finished it off himself with a two yard touchdown. Marco Bonacci scored the two-point conversion to give Bolzano a 30-25 lead they would not relinquish.
With the win, Bolzano advances to meet the Milano Seamen in Italian Bowl XXXVIII in Parma. The Seamen defeated the Lazio Ducks 45-13 in the other semifinal.