Great Britain squeaks by France in overtime

In a game marked by pouring rain at Butts Park Arena in Coventry, Great Britain scored a touchdown in overtime and then blocked a Team France extra point attempt to come away with a 7-6 victory in an International Federation of American Football European Championship placement game.

With the win, Great Britain advances to face Denmark to decide fifth place in the IFAF European hierarchy.

The GB Lions toughed out a scoreless four quarters with France as both teams came up short when knocking on the door of the end zone and both had kicks blocked at crucial times during regulation. A large and enthusiastic crowd braved the rainswept conditions to cheer the Lions to victory.

France had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock in the fourth quarter, but the Lions’ defense stuffed a run for a big loss and France were hurt by penalties that pushed them back from a promising third and goal situation, resulting in a blocked field goal.

Great Britain blocks extra point Photo: Adam Gumbs Photography

With four minutes to play, Lions quarterback Josh Allsebrook ran for a first down, a fine Lewis Kirby grab ate up more yardage and when GB moved from punt formation into a fourth down offense, a hard count by Sam Bloomfield caused the visiting defense to jump and earned a first down. After two incomplete passes aimed towards the end zone, kicker Alex Lenkowski split the uprights from 50 yards but what would have been the game-winning three points were wiped off the board for an illegal formation. His resulting kick from further out was blocked.

An overtime period of equal possessions from the 25-yard line saw France score the first points of the game as Sullivan Silverio hit Aymeric Nicault with a touchdown pass, but the resulting extra point was blocked. Critically, a 15-yard penalty against France was tagged onto the Great Britain drive, moving them to a starting point 10 yards from the end zone. Game MVP Aaron Sekwalor went in untouched on the first play and that left Lenkowski to win the game 7-6 with the decisive point after.

“This is a gutsy win, it’s a team win that shows the character of this national team program,” said Great Britain head coach Jason Scott afterwards. “In times of high pressure, we’ve shown poise, which is the ability to perform under pressure.”

Michael Preston (@PRMikePreston) is currently working with IFAF in a PR capacity. He recently covered Super Bowl LVII as a member of the NFL PR team as he has done for 20+ years. He has held communications positions with NFL Europe, the North