Team USA wins gold medal

Ricardo Lenhart
Otterbein alumnus Ricardo Lenhart led Team USA in receiving yards and caught a touchdown pass to end the first half.
IFAF photo

The United States produced a stunning display of offensive fireworks and defensive dominance to humble Canada 50-7 in the Gold Medal game of the 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship and defend the world title it won in Japan in 2007.

USA scored 21 points in the final 1:51 of the first half and rarely looked likely to lose its grip on the world crown in front of 20,000 partisan fans at the Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna, Austria.

"We didn't hold anything back," admitted USA head coach Mel Tjeerdsma. "We have only been together for three weeks. I think those extra couple of days, in the group games you played every other day, and for this game we actually had four days to prepare, which is almost like American football in the U.S. I think that really helped us.

"We are really proud of our players and the preparation they put in. We had some great game plans. Offensively we were very determined, but we didn't feel we put our best effort offensively in the Mexico game. Our offense was ready to play tonight."

USA began efficiently as quarterback Cody Hawkins moved the chains on an important third down completion, a Henry Harris run also earned a first down and they battled to the Canada one. From there Mount Union alumnus Nate Kmic broke the plane as he was tackled and USA opened a 7-0 lead with 7:42 to play in the first quarter.

"Our first drive is a critical part of the ball game, and I thought it was big that we scored," added Tjeerdsma.

Canada might have hit straight back but the usually safe hands of Scott Valberg dropped a long pass into US territory. Both teams exchanged punts before Canada pressed to tie the contest.

"On defense, we struggled to do the things we hoped to do," said Canada coach Larry Haylor. "We hoped to do a little better with possessing the ball. We thought USA had an exceptional defensive line, which caused us a lot of problems. They executed extremely well and full credit to them.

"They were an outstanding team tonight, and we just didn't play as well as we wanted to.

"The experience of it all was an extreme positive. To be the first Canadian team to compete in this tournament was exciting. Graz was amazing and our time in Vienna has been equally amazing."

Valberg held on to move the ball to the U.S. 35-yard line and quarterback Mike Faulds then went to him in the end zone. Corner DeWayne Lewis broke up the pass thinking he had an interception but was ruled out of bounds.

To open the second quarter Faulds targeted Shamawd Chambers and Matt Walter carried to the 10 and Faulds thought he had made it to the 1-yard mark. But the ball was frustratingly ruled to have been fumbled through the end zone for a touchback.

USA were merciless in reply. Matt Bassuener broke free up the middle to race clear 23 yards for a touchdown behind blocks from Nick Rossi and Mount Union alumnus Luke Summers to score for a 14-0 lead.

Daniel Caralano and Charles Bay hunted down Faulds in backfield for a loss, Bay came up with a sack and rather than risk USA coming back at them with the advantage strong field position Canada took a deliberate safety and opted to kick clear having given up two more points.

The plan backfired as Otterbein alumnus Ricardo Lenhart returned the free kick to the Canada 32 and a Harris run put the ball back into the red zone. Hawkins scrambled out to the left from seven yards for a commanding 23-0 lead with 1:51 to play.

Canada punted and the ruthless Americans scored again as Joe Sturdivant collected a pass lofted over the secondary by Hawkins for a 27-yard touchdown with 40 seconds on the clock.

Team USA opened up a big lead in the second quarter and cruised to the win against Canada.
IFAF photo 

Canada looked assured of going into the locker room with a foothold as David Stevens took a 19-yard pass from Faulds in for a touchdown, but incredibly, Team USA scored again. A squib kick aimed at preventing the U.S. from gaining significant return yards hit the first player in its path and was recovered at the Canada 38. From there Hawkins dropped a pass into the end zone for Lenhart to score and bring up a breathtaking 37-7 halftime score.

USA safety Jordan Lake intercepted Faulds on the first drive of the second half to take possession at Canada's 13 and on the next play, Kmic increased the lead to 43-7 on the ground. Kmic was named tournament MVP afterwards.

"I am just honored," said Kmic. "I did not expect to earn it. I just went out and did my job. That's what all of our guys mind set was to do. But what a great honor it is a true blessing.

"This is a great honor, to represent all our countries, and for me to be able to wear United States of America on my chest, what a great experience and opportunity. This is ranked very high on my list of accomplishments in my football career."

The rivals traded punts then Lake came up with his second interception near midfield and three plays later on first and goal at the five, Harris took the handoff for another touchdown and USA led by 43 points.

Chambers, David Stevens and Alexandre Poirier moved the ball successfully downfield, but Michel-Pierre Pontibrand came up marginally short on a fourth down rush for Canada at the USA 7-yard mark.

Donnie Marshall, now under center for Canada, guided the persistent silver medalists downfield to take four shots at the end zone as time ran out on them scoring a second consolation touchdown.

Canada (3-1) vs. Team USA (4-0)
Date: July 16, 2011
Site: Vienna
Stadium: Ernst Happel Stadion

Attendance: 20,000

Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Score
Canada......... 0 7 0 0 - 7
USA............ 7 30 13 0 - 50

Scoring Summary:


7:42 USA - Nate Kmic 2 yd run (Greggy Berkshire kick)
12 plays, 77 yards, TOP 4:18, CAN 0 - USA 7


5:54 USA - Matt Bassuener 23 yd run (Greggy Berkshire kick)
9 plays, 80 yards, TOP 3:49, CAN 0 - USA 14

3:32 USA - Team USA safety
CAN 0 - USA 16

1:51 USA - Cody Hawkins 7 yd run (Greggy Berkshire kick)
4 plays, 32 yards, TOP 1:32, CAN 0 - USA 23

0:40 USA - Joe Sturdivant 27 yd pass from Cody Hawkins (Greggy Berkshire kick)
2 plays, 33 yards, TOP 0:34, CAN 0 - USA 30

0:06 CAN - David Stevens 19 yd pass from Michael Faulds (Lirim Hajrullahu kick)
4 plays, 53 yards, TOP 0:27, CAN 7 - USA 30

0:00 USA - Ricardo Lenhart 38 yd pass from Cody Hawkins (Greggy Berkshire kick)
1 play, 38 yards, TOP 0:03, CAN 7 - USA 37


11:02 USA - Nate Kmic 13 yd run (Greggy Berkshire kick failed)
1 play, 13 yards, TOP 0:05, CAN 7 - USA 43

2:57 USA - Henry Harris 5 yd run (Greggy Berkshire kick)
5 plays, 46 yards, TOP 2:36, CAN 7 - USA 50

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