France Overcomes Finland 35-21; Captures Bronze & Berth in 2015 World Championships!

The teams traded punts  three times, but with just over a minute to go in the first half, Mattison found Guillaume Rioux and the receiver ran almost untouched for a 45 yard touchdown, giving France a 14-7 lead at the half.

10462925_239467622918409_5316279784198595329_nFrance wasted no time in the second half as Perez Mattision found his passing  game taking his team from their own 43 yard line, after a great kickoff return by Andre Couvin, down to Finland’s 27 before finding  Doulival for a 27 yard touchdown reception.

Again the Finnish offense struggled having to rely on its punter, K Gronroos to stay out of trouble. With just over a minute left in the third quarter Mattison threw his third touchdown pass of the game to Rioux and France took a seemingly secure 28-7 lead to start the fourth quarter.

But Finland got back on the scoreboard as Vaikka Lehtonen took off for 38 yards and then Finnish quarterback Miro Kadmiry found Ville Kurvinen from 23 yards out to make the score 28-14.

France came right back as tailback Anthony  Dable cut just inside the Finnish corner and scampered 56 yards for another French touchdown.

Finland then engineered a five minute drive from their own 25 to France’s seven only to take two needless delay of game penalties and then badly miss the ensuing field goal attempt.

Finally, after forcing a French fumble, Finland scored as Kadmiry hit Saloranta for a 10 yard touchdown closing the gap to 35-21. But with only just under two and a half minutes remaining, Finland had run out of time. France ran out the clock, rushing five times before taking a knee.

Although France took third in the tournament, it looked like the loss to Austria for a championship berth affected them, as at times they looked frustrated and off balance. They had finished second in the 2010 European championships and maybe considered this a step down. After Finland’s  opening day embarrassing loss to Germany, Finland was the was the clear underdog going into the game but redeemd themselves and battled to the end.

With the victory the French claim the third and final European berth in the 2015 World Championships in Stockholm, Sweden. They will join Germany and Austria as the European qualifiers. Also confirmed are IFAF Asia teams Japan and South Korea, IFAF Oceania winner Australia, host country Sweden, and 2011 defending World Champions the United States. Two teams from IFAF Americas and one team from IFAF Africa have yet to be decided.

Leading rusher on the game was Stephen Yepmo with 209 yards. Top receiver was also from France as Guillaume Rioux caught four passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

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Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.