Thonon Black Panthers capture 2nd straight Casque de Diamant in come from behind victory over La Courneuve Flash

Trailing 25-21 at the half, the defending French champion Thonon Black Panthers scored 16 third quarter points and then held on to defeat arch rivals, the La Courneuve Flash 37-33 in French championship game held in Perpignan, France this past weekend.

This was the second consecutive title for Thonon and fifth overall.

The 28th Casque de Diamant between the 12 time champion Flash and the reigning title holders was nothing short of spectacular between two teams that know each other so well.

The Flash opened the scoring with quarterback Badis Grami connecting with wide receiver Stéphane Fortes to take a 6-0 lead. Thonon responded as quarterback K’Hari Lane, atoning for an earlier interception, hit tight end Odell Turnbull to give the Black Panthers a 7-6 lead.

La Courneuve answered with Jason Bofunda finding the end zone to give his team the lead again,13-7. In this see-saw battle though, there were fireworks aplenty as Lane then found Pierre-Yves Dayres behind the defense for a 40-yard touchdown and Thonon went back out in front 14-13.

The Flash continued to pound the ball and Bofunda finds a gap and rumbles 30 yards to score and restore the lead for his team, 19-14, still in the second quarter. However, the Lane-Dayres connection shows itself again, with a 30-yard touchdown and the Black Panthers went back out in front 21-19.

(Photo Thomas Griffiths – 808 IMAGES)

The Flash ground game continues to dominate though as Bofunda breaks out for a 50 yard gain and Pion scores on the next play to give La Courneuve a 25-21 lead going into the break.

Thonon came out in the third quarter a rejuvenated team taking control of the game in all three phases. The defense halts the Flash’s first drive and combined with a penalty the Black Panthers take over deep in La Courneuve territory. Lane then hits Liam Ward to put Thonon back out in front 27-25.

A blocked punt gave the Black Panthers excellent field position again and they capitalized with Pierre-Yves Dayres scoring his third touchdown to extend the lead to 34-25. With the defense neutralizing the La Courneuve ground attack, Thonon used their own running game to control the clock. With five minutes left, the Black Panthers kicked a field goal to make it 37-25.

The Flash were not done though as Grami finds François Bremond in the end zone to reduce the lead to 37-33 with four minutes to go in the game. Then, the La Courneuve defense rose up, halting the Black Panthers and forcing them to punt with just under two minutes to play. However, punt returner Stéphane Forte accidentally touches the ball without catching it and Thonon recovered to seal the win.

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