Team Sweden advances to U19 title game with solid win over France

The Swedish u19 national team found themselves trailing Team France at halftime of their IFAF U19 European Championship semifinal game but came out and exploded for 22 straight points in the third quarter to take the lead and eventually hold on to down France 31-21.

This is the second tournament in a row that Sweden has beaten France to reach the gold medal final. Sweden downed France 7-0 to reach the 2019 U19 European Championship game.

This game was a tale of two halves.

Behind a solid ground game led by the power running of Oliver Lundberg who rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries, Vilgot Villeskog (8/48) and quarterback Max Lambert who rushed for 30 yards on 11 carries and a score, Sweden simply wore down the French squad in the second half. Lambert also threw for 50 yards and one touchdown with Oliver Langlais as his main target with three catches for 30 yards and a touchdown.

France’s Antoine Lefebvre was accurate completing six of seven passes for 64 yards and one touchdown while back up Dimitri Vercaigne completed two passes for 23 yards. It was the French ground game led by Valentin Delayen who rushed for 101 yards and Robin Collioud who had six carries for 47 yards and a score, that was supposed to have been the difference. But turnovers, including three fumbles, were France’s demise.

France got off to a dream start though. First, they stunned the Swedes on the very first play from scrimmage with Collioud finding a seam and sprinting 49 yards for a touchdown. Then they forced a fumble at the Swedish 20 yard line on Sweden’s first possession. But that’s when the Swedish defense made a statement, stuffing the ensuing drive, not allowing France inside the red zone and then taking the ball over at their own 15 after a terrible punt.

Both defenses played well until Sweden finally began to move the ball as Lambert marched his team down to the French four-yard line. France kept the Swedes out of the end zone but Rasmus Frick kicked a 20-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 7-3.

Team France then turned the ball over deep in their own end on a strange fourth down call. Sweden took over at the 24-yard line and two plays later Lambert found Langlais for a 17-yard touchdown to give the Swedes a 9-7 lead.

France responded on the very next possession as Vercaigne marched his team from his own 30 down to the Swedish 15-yard line. He then called his own number scoring to restore the French lead, 14-9 with five minutes left in the half.

Neither team could gain any momentum after that, and France took the lead into the break.

Another French turnover, this time a fumble at their own 30-yard line, gave Sweden the chance they needed. Lambert wasted no time, scoring himself four plays later from the nine-yard line to give Sweden a 17-14 lead following Lambert’s two-point conversion.

The rest of the third quarter belonged to Sweden with the French offense stalled. Lundberg scored on a 45-yard touchdown with just over three minutes left in the third making it 24-14.

A second French fumble gave Sweden the ball at midfield. Four plays later, Lundberg struck again, this time from 33 yards out and Sweden took a commanding 31-14 lead into the fourth quarter.

Neither team could gain any momentum in the fourth and the play got sloppy with fumbles from both sides. France finally took advantage of excellent field position after Lundberg uncharacteristically fumbled at his own 10-yard line. Lefebvre hit Gylian Golitin for a six-yard touchdown three plays later to close the gap to 31-21 with eight minutes left.

France was unable to get any closer however and the Swedish offense simply held onto the ball for the final four minutes of the game to earn a berth in the final on Sunday.

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