France: Flash, surprising Iron Mask and Leopards stay unbeaten

The French D1 Elite league wound up its second weekend of action a week ago with a couple of upsets and a battle of two heavyweights for the ages.

The La Courneuve Flash took advantage of a key injury to the Thonon Black Panthers quarterback to gain a measure of revenge for last year’s title game loss. Meanwhile, the newly promoted Cannes Iron Mask are beginning to turn heads with a second straight decisive win. Also the Rouen Leopards, Catalans Grizzlys and Marseilles Blue Stars came out of Week 2 as victors as the 12 team French league heads into Week #3 this coming weekend.

La Courneuve Flash 21 (4-0) – Thonon Black Panthers 7 (2-1)

A game that had drama before the opening whistle as a rejuvenated Black Panthers squad suffered a stinging blow as their starting QB, Jose Tabora Jr. suffered an injury during the warm-up which led to Kevin Dessaux stepping in to be the signal caller for the Thonon side and scored first, running the ball into the endzone.

It wasn’t long however before the Flash managed to double the points total bringing the score to 14-7 before the start of Q2.

The second quarter didn’t go as the Black Panthers had planned, as they turned the ball over the ball three times and missed a field goal that would have brought the game closer.

The defending champions felt the blow of losing their starting QB as the throwing game of the Black Panthers was virtually non-existent. By half time they had a mere two yards through the air and 32 all game as the Flash managed to score again in the second half and improve their record to 2-0.

Rouen Leopards 21 (3-0) – Saint-Quen Cougars 12 (2-1)

A hotly anticipated matchup between two teams making their season debuts seemed to be a lot better on paper as the Leopards started the first half off hot being up 14 points by half time.

Saint-Quen came out of the half-time break with a bit more moxy as they put their first 2024 season points on the board taking the score to 14-6 but the Leopards shut down the momentum of the Cougars with a kick-off return touchdown by Younes Mouhafid taking the score to 21-6 and leading the newly promoted Rouen Leopards to a historic victory away at Saint-Quen.

Catalan Grizzlys 21 (1-0) – Nice Dauphins 19 (0-2)

The first game in a new campaign for Catalan sees them levy another point in the loss column for Nice.

The Grizzlys capitalized early with a pick-6 from Ozny Adramann and Catalan managed to ride that all to a 21-0 lead going into halftime after the Grizzlys QB, Jaylen Tregle hit two bombs from 80 and 50 yards.

Nice wasn’t going to take that lying down, as they came out of the break buzzing and managed to get down to a game-tying 2-point conversion attempt in the dying moments of the game but it was not meant to be as the Grizzlys defense kept them out of the end-zone to earn their first win while the Dauphins move to 0-2.

Marseille Blue Stars 22 (1-0) – Toulouse Ours 7 (0-2)

A game that went scoreless in the first half exploded in the third with Marseille QB, Hadrien Lynda launching a ball to Gabriel Bisson for the game’s first points. The Blue Stars continued this momentum with a blocked punt touchdown and a safety courtesy of Eddy Abdullah before Lynda took another ball into the endzone in a run play to take the score to 22-0.

Toulouse were not able to use their newly-signed American QB, Norman Douglas Jr. the way they wanted although they managed a late touchdown. Still with the loss the Ours have to start worrying as they fall to 0-2.

Iron Mask Cannes 35 (2-0) – Aix Argonautes 8 (1-1)

The Iron Mask continue to roll after their promotion into D1 and with this their second win after their victory over Nice in the second weekend of play they are actually looking like contenders. Implementing a variety of strategies, this game was all-Cannes with the Iron Mask being up 28-0 going into the half time break, the Argonauts just could not come back from such an assault. Even with a late touchdown from the Argonauts, Cannes scored again to keep it at a 28-point game and improved to 2-0 on the season.

Chris has been a part of American Football for almost a decade playing for Lincoln and Gloucestershire University teams, he also has history covering British University American Football for the past 3 years and also acts as commentator for some of