Team Serbia fell behind early but rallied in the second half and then withstood a furious late Italian rally to beat Blue Team from Italy 34-31 at the Stadio Tehil of Lignano Sabbiadoro in Italy Sunday.
Strahinja Stepović scored two touchdowns while running back Mihailo Josović and receiver Nikoli Simoviću added one each and kicker Darko Klasan kicked two fields goal and four PATs in the win.
Team Serbia watched Italy take a 14-0 first quarter lead after picking off Serbian quarterback David Hanomihla Lukic. Italy wasted no time as starting quaterback Tommaso Monardi found receiver Tommaso Finadri for a 15 yard touchdown pass and then Monardi’s replacement (Italy rotated quarterbacks throughout the game), Luke Zahradka , hit Tommaso Pozzebon for an 18 yard pass for a touchdown.
Serbia’s offense finally came to life in the second quarter as Lukic threw to Nikoli Simoviću for a 15 yard score while Klasan added a field goal before the half making the score 14-10 Italy.
The Serbian running attack began to take its toll in the second half as Strahinja Stepović was switched to quarterback and was deadly. Then Mihailo Josović scored on a 55 yard run and Serbia took its first lead of the game 17-14. Klasan kicked another field goal stretching the lead to 20-14.
Italy responded with a drive of their own capping it with a Mario Andrioli one yard plunge returning the lead to Italy, 21-20.
That’s when Stepović really took charge as Italy had no answer for him. His speed to the outside was so deceptive that the Italian contain players, whether the defensive ends or linebackers, were constantly caught out of position. He scored two straight touchdowns giving Serbia a seemingly comfortable 34-24 lead with very little time left on the clock.
Italy mounted a furious rally as Monardi mixed up his play calling, finally throwing a four yard touchdown pass to Marco Podavitte to close the gap to 34-31.
However, it was too little too late as Serbia ran out the clock securing an important win in preparation for their qualifier against Hungary on October 10.