Milano Rhinos, Bolzano Giants Advance To Italian Super Bowl

For the first time since 2013 the Italian Super Bowl will not feature the Milano Seamen and Parma Panthers.

The Milano Rhinos who remain undefeated this season, and Bolzano Giants took care of business in the Italian semifinals as the Rhinos beat the Milano Seamen in one thrilling semifinal and the Giants ousted the Panthers in the other.

The Giants are returning to the title game for the first time since 2009 when they beat Lazio to win the Italian crown. The Rhinos have to look further back than that. They won the Italian championship in 1990 and have not appeared in the  Italian Super Bowl since 1994.

This will be the first Italian championship game without the participation of the Panthers since 2010.

Milano Rhinos 35 – Milano Seamen 34

Italy - Rhinos-Seamen - semifinal 2016 - action - Mario Telandro photo

The third meeting of 2016 between crosstown rivals in Milan was not for the faint of heart. It was not decided until the final minute of play and had every imaginable turn. The game was tied four times with the Rhinos scoring first and the Seamen always responding.

Rhinos running back Nicholas Ricciardulli rushed for 200 yards and four touchdowns to pace the team while quarterback TJ Pryor threw to Gabrieli Arioli for the fifth.

Seamen quarterback Garrett Safron threw two touchdown passes and rushed for another in a losing cause. Running back Filippo Fiammenghi scored twice for the Seamen.

The game boiled down to a missed PAT.

With both teams trading touchdowns in the second half, the Seamen’s Danilo Bonaparte returned the Rhino’s last post-touchdown kickoff all the way to close the gap to 35-34. But the Seamen’s kicker missed the extra point with three minutes left in the game.

That set up the final dramatics. Despite having the ball and a ground game which had not been stopped all game, the Rhinos head coach did not play conservative football and came out throwing. Although Pryor was almost picked off once, they continued to go to the air. On the next series receiver Giacomo Bonnano was hit and the ball comes loose. The Seamen recovered the fumble but Safron then fumbled himself and the Rhinos were able to recover it and end the game.

Bolzano Giants 30 – Panthers Parma 20

Italy - Giants-Panthers semifinal 2016 action

In a game of two halves, the Giants jumped out to a 30-0 third quarter lead and then watched as the Parma Panthers roared back late in the game, scoring three straight touchdowns.

However the damage had been done as the Giants secondary had a field day picking off Parma quarterback Tommaso Monardi three times returning them for touchdowns to put the game away. Defensive back Alexander Germany had two pick sixes while Paolo Ricchiuti took one back as well.

Although Monardi threw two late touchdown passes to Tommaso Finadri and Demetrius Wilson and caught one himself from Finadri on a trick play, it was too little too late as the Giants picked up their fourth interception to seal the win.

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.