Lazio Ducks survived a scare, beat Parma Panthers to advance to Italian semifinals

The Lazio Ducks survived a furious second half rally in Parma, Italy finally coming away with a 22-20 wild card playoff victory over the Parma Panthers this past weekend in Italy’s Div. 1.

The Ducks had built a 19-0 halftime lead, only to watch as the Panthers roared back in the second half, outscoring Lazio 20-3, but missing a game-tying two point attempt with zeros on the clock.

Game MVP was Ducks receiver and defensive back Lorenzo Melchiorre who was on fire scoring two of the three touchdowns for Lazio and grabbing one interception. He also punted twice for 104 yards.

Ducks quarterback Tyler Johnson threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns, two to Melchiorre who had five catches for 69 yards while teammate Anrea Rinaldi had six receptions for 93 yards and one touchdown. Running back Mike Gentili returned from injury and had 15 carries for 79 yards.

For Parma, young 19 year old Davide Rossi completed 17 of 35 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns but he was sacked four times. Silvester Ampomah  caught one of the touchdown passes while Tommaso Finadri caught the other. Simone Alinovi also scored on a 79 yard kickoff return.

The Lazio Ducks defense had a solid game Photo: Stefan Scaccia

The Lazio offense set the tone early as Johnson marched them down to the Parma 15 yard line and then hit Melchiorre to give the Ducks a 7-0 lead.

Parma was given a golden opportunity early in the second quarter when Michaelangelo Leone picked off a Johnson pass deep in Lazio territory and returned it to the 16 yard line. But Rossi was unable to capitalize as he in turn was intercepted on the goalline  by Melchiorre who returned it up to his 34 yard line. Johnson took advantage, engineering a seven play, 60 yard drive, finishing with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Finaldi, upping the score to 13-0 midway through the second quarter.

Rossi and the Panthers offense struggled after that, unable to get past their own 25 yard line. Meanwhile, Johnson had the Ducks offense humming, mounting a 58 yard drive and connecting with Melchiorre again, this time from eight yards out and Lazio went into the break leading 19-0.

Neither team could gain any momentum in the third quarter until a Gentili fumble gave the ball to Parma at the Ducks 40 yard line. This time, Rossi made no mistake, hitting Finadri five plays later for a 22 yard touchdown pass to edge his team closer, 19-7 late in the third.

The fourth quarter opened with Johnson again marching the Ducks into the Parma red zone but this time Lazio had to settle for a field goal to increase the lead to 22-7 with six minutes left.

That was short lived though as Alinovi collected the ensuring kickoff on his own 21 yard line and took it all the way back to reduce the lead to 22-14 with six minutes still on the clock.

Both defenses stiffened and at the 1:22 mark, Rossi and the Panthers took the ball over at their own 20 yard line. Using the clock efficiently, Rossi maneuvered the Panthers to the Lazio 30 yard line and then found Ampomah in the end zone to bring the Panthers to within two, 22-20 with no time left. Linebacker Derrick Bryant lined up at running back to attempt a game-tying two point conversion, but the Lazio defense stuffed him for a gain of only one and the Ducks started celebrating.

With the win, Lazio advances to the semifinals for the second year in a row where they will face the same opponents as last year, the Milano Seamen.

In the other wild card game, the Firenze Guelfi downed the Torino Giaguari 31-14.



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