CEFL: La Courneuve Flash survive 2nd half collapse to sneak by Stockholm Mean Machines and advance to semifinals

It was definitely a game of two halves.

The La Courneuve Flash built what seemed like an insurmountable 28-0 halftime lead against Swedish title holders, the Stockholm Mean Machines, only to watch as Stockholm stormed back in the second half outscoring the home team 33-6. It was not enough though as La Courneuve escaped with a 34-33 victory.

This is the second straight year that the Mean Machines have lost in the quarterfinal round by a single point. Last season, Stockholm took control of the game against Germany’s Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns only to lose on the final play of the game, 29-27.

On their opening drive, the Flash first moved the chains on a couple of Badis Grami’s passes to Guillaume Ketcheain-Francotte and then a toss to Yassine Sifeddine in the end zone, 7-0.

With their two running backs, Kasper Wedberg and Oliwer Stedt out of commission, and their starting quarterback, Mateo Renteria nursing an injury, it was three and out for the visitors.

The long snap on the ensuing fourth down went over the punter’s head but he scooped up the ball and booted it to his own 19 yard line. Grami took advantage of the short field by hitting Darius Dawsey to up the score, 14-0.

Stockholm marched down in the field in the next series led by young running backs David Ottander and Erik Säving.  Just when they reached the red zone, Johan Hallgren’s pass was picked off by Flash defensive back Fara Mendy.

Flash ball carriers Judson Saint Louis and François Pion helped the home team drive deep into Mean Machines territory on the next possession and then Grami connected with Dawsey, Stéphane Fortes and Saint Louis for double-digit yards. Pion capped the drive with a score of his own, 21-0.

On a screen pass during the next Flash possession with a minute to go in the first half, Fortes escaped his defender and sprinted down the right sideline for 81 yards to the Stockholm one yard line, tackled by Enoch Mawunguzi. However, Grami connected with Dawsey to give La Courneuve a 28-o lead at the half.

The Mean Machines came out of the break a different team.

After the intermission, Renteria stepped back behind center and found both Leonard Bronse and Anton Blomgren to put the ball near midfield. Ottander took over and found the end zone three plays later to reduce the lead to 28-7.

Trailing by three touchdowns heading into the fourth quarter, Stockholm marched down the field again. Renteria connected with both Robin Gavelin Miranda and Isac Lilleberg and Ottander continued to pound the ball,  Facing a third and goal from the two yard line, Ottander made no mistake snaking his way into the end zone to close the gap further, 28-14.

Photo: Fredrik Boström


After a successful onside kick Stockholm took over again. Renteria dropped a rainbow to Blomgren who clenched the ball on a circus catch for a 44 yard gain. Then Mean Machines wideout Gavelin Miranda fought off his defender in the end zone for another score making it 28-21 with six minutes left.

The sputtering Flash offense finally came alive but all they could come up with in the end was a missed field goal and Stockholm took over again.

On 4th and 15 with less than three minutes to go Renteria scrambled right and lobbed it to Blomgren who came up with another tough, 57-yard-long catch. Ottander then broke four tackles and dragging defenders with him plunged into the end zone from 14 yards out to narrow the lead to a single point, 28-27. However, the Flash blocked the extra point attempt and the score remained 28-27.

With nothing to lose, the visitors went for yet another onside kick. This time it didn’t pay off. Flash running back Pion scooped up the ball and raced all the way to the Mean Machines’ 16 yard line. Saint Louis scrambled to score but Stockholm blocked the PAT and the score was 34-27.

Photo: Fredrik Boström

With 1:13 left, Renteria came out slinging finding Ottander, Gavelin Miranda, Hallgren and Säving. Then with eight seconds to go, Renteria found Miranda  all alone at the back of the end zone from seven yards out and Stockholm were within one, 34-33. A last gasp two-point conversion attempt fell short however and the game ended in the Flash’s favor.

With the win, La Courneuve advances to the semifinals where they will face Switzerland’s Calanda Broncos on June 1. Calanda defeated Italian champions, the Parma Panthers 34-20.

In other action, Austrian title holders, the Danube Dragons disposed of Italy’s Firenze Guelfi 45-20 while French defending champions, the Thonon Black Panthers overwhelmed the Graz Giants from Austria 30-6.

Source: Central European Football League. 

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