The Dutch Lions Defeat Team Catalonia

Team Holland spoiled Catalonia’s 25th anniversary with a 36-26 win

Girona, Spain

With less than 30 seconds remaining in the game between Team Holland and the host Team CataloniaDutch Lions defensive back Chebio Tower snagged an interception on Holland’s five yard line and sprinted all the way back for a 95 yard touchdown to give Team Holland a 36-26 victory over Team Catalonia in Spain Saturday.

The game was held to honor the 25th Anniversary of the introduction of American football in Catalonia, a region in the northeast area of Spain. Team Catalonia had never played together before, but tell that to the Dutch Lions.

Team Holland celebrating

Linebacker Kevin Bourne was happy with the win

The first quarter gave a pretty good indication of what was to come. Catalonia forced a Dutch safety early on and then Jordi Brugnani kicked a 27 yard field goal giving them a 5-0 lead. Holland responded later in the first as Dutch quarterback Richard Bouthoorn found wide receiver Ananias Semedo in the end zone and Holland then took a 7-5 lead.

Team Catalonia 6

Great day for football in Girona.

Then the Dutch began asserting themselves and Bouthoorn threw another touchdown pass, this time to Melvin Maasdamme, extending the lead to 14-5. But the Catalonians responded with a Ramon Figueroa touchdown pass to Victor Martin to narrow the gap to 14-12. But with only nine seconds left in the first half receiver Tom van Duijn caught a touchdown pass from Bouthoorn to give Holland a 22-12 lead going into the break.

Van Duijn was having a great game and caught his second touchdown pass, this one from Maurice Tielen, who started the second half,  in the third quarter and Holland, whose defense was keeping the Catalonians on their heels, were up 29-12 with only one quarter remaining.

Team Holland - Chris Smith3

Dutch Lions running back Chris Smith.

And what a quarter it was. This game was far from over. First Catalonian running back Ian Escoda exploded for a seven yard score pulling them to within 10, 29-19. Then Javier Fernandez, found a seam and took off for another touchdown to close the gap to 29-26 with less than three minutes left in the game.

Catalonia got a stop, and then drove all the way down to the Dutch 10 yard line with 30 seconds left. A touchdown here would have give them the game, but the Dutch front seven pressured quarterback Ramon Figueroa and his errant throw went right to Chebio Tower who got a pick six and the game ended 36-26.

Team Catalonia 3

Team Catalonia after the game

For Team Catalonia, this was a moral victory if you count those. These players were together for the first time ever after a month of preparation. For Team Holland, the game brought them closer together as a team in a quest to win the IFAF Europe Group C championships in 2015.

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.