Team France found themselves in a battle for three quarters Sunday in Jihlava, Czech Republic but scored three fourth quarter touchdowns to defeat the Czechs 28-3 in first round Group A action in the IFAF 2020 European Championship Qualification tournament.
The Czech Republic team held the powerful defending champion French to a late first half touchdown by running back Jason Aguemon and stayed within striking distance the entire third quarter, adding a field goal.
But the French offense had too many weapons and the Czechs committed too many mistakes as turnovers were the order of the day for them. Czech quarterback Pavel Mráz threw for only 29 yards but tossed four interceptions.
In the end though, it was the French running game that simply wore down the Czech front seven. With France leading 7-3 early in the fourth quarter, French running back Stephen Yepmo waltzed in from the 10 yard line to increase the lead to 14-3.
Then, on the very next play from scrimmage, Mráz threw right into the hands of a French defender and France took over at the Czech 26 yard line.
The Czech defense forced France into a fourth down at the 12 yard line. That’s when French head coach Jean-Philippe Dinglor pulled out his trick playbook. France lined up for a field goal attempt but Remi Issaly, who was the holder, picked the ball up and tossed a touchdown pass to Quentin Mendy to give France a 21-3 lead with nine minutes left in the game.
One play later, Mráz did it again, throwing the ball into the hands of Mendy (now playing defense) who outfought the Czech wide receiver for the ball.
The Czechs did get the ball back on downs but were never able to get out of their own end. A poor punt gave France the ball on the Czech 40 and Thouary, now in a quarterback, marched his team down to the 12. Remy Guyot took the hand off and scrambled his way into the end zone with under two minutes left to make the score 28-3.
With the win, France is in the driver’s seat in Division A of Group A. The Czech Republic now faces Team Serbia on October 27 while the French and Serbs play on November 9 in France.