Lazio Ducks advance to Italian semis, beat Ancona Dolphins in wild card game

The Lazio Ducks broke open a tie football game scoring three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the Ancona Dolphins 32-12 in Rome this past weekend in the Wild Card Playoff round of Italy’s Division I.

With the win, the Ducks who were formed this year, advance to the Italian semifinals for the first time.

Quarterback Hans Fortune, the leading passer in the league during the regular season, threw for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Mike Gentili rushed for 77 yards and caught three passes for 72 yards and another touchdown. Wide receiver Anrea Rinaldi caught two touchdown passes and the defense forced a safety. Defensive back Giacomo Insom also scored on a blocked punt return. However, the Ducks missed all of their extra point conversion attempts.

For Ancona, Josh Dean completed 16 of 33 passes for 157 yards and a touchdown but threw two interceptions. Wide receiver Antonio Nocera caught the lone touchdown pass while Cristiano Brancaccio kicked a 23 yard field goal. Paolo Domenicone returned a missed PAT all the way for the two points.

Lazio LB Herbert Gamboa returning an interception 72 yards for a TD Photo: Andi King

The Dolphins opened the scoring on Dean’s 18 yard touchdown pass to Nocera in the first quarter giving Ancona a 7-0 lead. Fortune led his team on a  7-play, 48 yard drive capping it with a 15 yard touchdown pass to Rinaldi to narrow the gap to 7-6. Domenicone blocked the PAT and raced 80 yards to extend Ancona’s lead to 9-6 at the half.

Late in the third quarter, Lazio linebacker Herbert Gamboa picked off a Dean pass and returned it 72 yards for the go ahead touchdown giving the Ducks a 12-9 lead going into the fourth quarter. Ancona tied the game at 12-12 with Brancaccio’s field goal.

That’s when the Ducks took control.

On the following possession, Fortune finished off a 70 yard drive with an 11 yard touchdown pass to Rinaldi, his second of the game to retake the lead 18-12. Then the defense trapped Dean in the Dolphins end zone to add two more points. With Ancona now in seeming disarray, Lazio recovered the onside kick and three plays later Fortune connected with Gentili to extend the lead to 26-12.

To add insult to injury, with just over a minute left in the game, Giacomo Insom blocked a Dolphins punt on the next series and returned it 11 yards for a touchdown.

With the 32-12 win, the Ducks will face the unbeaten Milano Seamen in the semifinals on June 23. In the other wild card game, the Bolzano Giants disposed of the Firenze Guelfi 50-0 to move on to the semifinals where they will play the Parma Panthers.

Photos: Andi King

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