Team France head coach Patrick Esume took a veteran French national team into the fifth International Federation of American Football World Championships and their experience and poise were immediately apparent as they had no trouble dismantling newcomers Brazil 31-6 at Tom Benson Pro Football Hall of Fame Stadium.
This was Brazil’s first game ever in IFAF tournament play and unfortunately it showed as France jumped out to an early lead and then coasted to the win.
“Having guys like Guillaume (Rioux) and Anthony (Dable) that have been in big tournaments helps,” Esume said. “They’re veteran guys. They bring experience to the table. They’re not going to shy away from competition when the lights are on.”
The game was over early on as French receiver Anthony Dable returned the opening kickoff 102 yards for the game’s first touchdown (the longest play in IFAF World Championship history). Fellow receiver Guillaume Rioux (team MVP) added two more touchdowns in the first quarter on passes from quarterback Paul Durand to give Team France a 21-0 lead entering the second stanza.
The French continued their dominance in the second quarter although it did not show on the scoreboard. Brazil finally crossed midfield with a minute to go in the half but got not much further. At the break France was leading 24-0 on an Alexandre Sy 32 yard field goal and were already looking ahead to the Australians on Sunday.
“For sure, it’s always important to take the lead like that,” Rioux said. “It takes off all the pressure of the tournament, but at the same time it was a dangerous lead because we slacked off. We have to come out strong, but keep the pace going the whole game.”
The Brazilians seemed to settle down in the second half shaking off some of their first-half jitters and played even with France for much of the half.
Quarterback Rhudson Fonseca scored Brazil’s first touchdown in IFAF World Championship annals when he scored from 2 yards out in the fourth quarter to trim the lead to 24-6.
But France’s nifty running back Stephan Yepmo (13 carries, 106 yards) answered from 53 yards out to close the scoring.
French quarterback Paul Durand was never under much pressure and managed the game well. He completed 13-of-23 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, while Rioux had six catches and 79 yards to lead all receivers.
“I’m proud of the way the guys fought in the second half,” Brazil coach Danillo Muller Ribeiro said. “I think we made a couple mistakes in the first half. We did a good job in the second half, I’m very proud of the guys.”
The tale of the game can be found in the stats as France rolled up 293 yards in total offense in contrast to Brazil’s 116. The French defense, led by linebacker Matthieu Fayard who recorded six tackles and two sacks, allowed Brazil only nine yards rushing.
“We said from the get-go, we wanted to have the most physical defense,” Esume said. “If you want to have a physical defense, you have to stop the run.”
Next up for France is Australia, who won their game against Korea 47-6. That game is Sunday July 12.
With info and excerpts from Brad Bournival from USA Football. Photos: USA Football/Ed Hall Jr.