CEFL: France’s Thonon Black Panthers shut out Firenze Guelfi in 2nd half to advance to CEFL semifinals

In a Central European Football League round 2 matchup this last Saturday, France’s number two team, the Thonon Black Panthers used a strong defensive second half to get past the Italian champions, the Firenze Guelfi 27-14.

The game started as a defensive battle with neither team able to put up any points in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Firenze struck first. Quarterback Andrea Fimiani marched his team down the field before finding the endzone with his legs giving the Guelfi a 7-0 lead.

Thonon Black Panthers WR Jack Pilkerton #12 caught 4 passes for 109 yards and 1 TD. Photo: Daniele Betazzi

Thonon answered quickly though as Adel Bafdile returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to lock the score at 7-7. The Black Panthers found the end zone againa few drives later after running back Nicolas Khandar split the defense on his way to a 60-yard run. He was brought down at the two-yard line but punched it in on his own on the next play to make the score 14-7.

Firenze finally responded to Thonon’s 14 consecutive points as running back Cosimo Casati cut back inside and then raced untouched 51 yards to the endzone to tie the game at 14-14. Firenze had a chance to take the lead before the half, but goal line penalties and a blocked field goal kept the game tied heading into the half.

After a close first half, the entire second half belonged to the Black Panthers. Taking not much time to regain the lead, Thonon quarterback José Tabora found Jack Pilkerton streaking behind the defense to give his team the 21-14 lead.

Firenze RB Cosimo Casati enroute to a 51 yard TD Photo: Daniele Betazzi

That would be the last touchdown of the game as Firenze was unable to score any points of their own for the entirety of the second half. Thonon kicker Kevin Dessaux booted a field goal in each of the final two periods as insurance.

With the 27-14 victory, Thonon will now face the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns in the CEFL semifinals on June 3. The Unicorns defeated Sweden’s Stockholm Mean Machines 29-27, scoring on the final play of the game for the win.

Noah Costantino is a student and football player at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. Fueled by his love for the game he looks to continue his knowledge of football at an international level. He is majoring in Communications with a