Team France, playing their first game since the 2015 IFAF World Championship in Canton, Ohio, defeated Italy 23-15 in Castel Giorgio, Italy last weekend.
The last time France took the field was in the bronze medal game against Mexico in 2015 where they lost 20-7. Italy last played in January losing to Switzerland 12-9.
France relied on their ground game racking up 178 yards rushing spread among five running backs, led by Brice Rontet (Bron/Villeurbanne Falcons) who had 60 yards rushing. Quarterback Sullivan Silvero from the Nice Dauphins was steady but not spectacular in the win completing five of nine passes for only 86 yards while Aymeric Dethelot (La Courneuve Flash) was three of five for 63 yards and a touchdown.
Team Italy quarterback Tommasso Monardi (Parma Panthers) completed 14 of 24 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns in a losing cause. The French front seven kept Monardi under pressure though sacking him twice and forcing hurries all game.
Following a scoreless first quarter which saw Italy threaten, driving to the French eight yard line without producing a point, France took the lead in the second quarter. A 49 yard punt return by Stéphane Fortes (La Courneuve Flash) gave France the ball on Italy’s 26 yard line. Silvero connected with Loic Lesuperbe (Flash) down to the one and Jason Aguemon (Flash) carried the ball in from the one to give France a 7-0 lead.
Italy got on the scoreboard with 20 seconds left in the first half on a 37 yard field goal by Stefano Tunisi (Cinneplex Blue Devils).
The third quarter saw neither team gaining an advantage until an Italian fumble on their own 18 yard line gave France the ball in good scoring position. Team France capitalized as Dethelot scored six plays later to widen France’s lead to 14-3.
Monardi engineered a 10 play 60 yard drive for Italy early in the fourth quarter finishing it with a six yard touchdown pass to Paolo Biancalana (Lazio Marines) to close the gap to 14-9.
After Italian interception culminated in a Monardi to Michele Marchini (Ancona Dolphins) touchdown and France forced a safety, France was clinging to a 16-15 lead late in the game.
However, France then mounted a five play 54 yard drive with Dethelot finding tight end Murphy Balame-Putu (Flash) from 17 yards out to extend France’s lead to 23-15. A last gasp unsuccessful drive by Italy gave France the ball back on downs deep in Italian territory and Rontet carried to ball six times down to Italy’s one yard line to run the clock out.