Sunday, July 8, 2012


Todd Bell on 07/01/2012

Running back Lorenzo Woodley in action for the USA

The United States survived a fierce American Samoa effort to win its IFAF Under 19 World Championship opener 27-6 and earn a fourth of July semi final clash with Austria, 40-0 winner over Panama earlier today.

Team USA opened the game with a record 77-yard touchdown run and followed that with touchdowns on its first two possessions en route to a 27-6 win over American Samoa in Game 4 of the 2012 IFAF U19 World Championship at Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas.

"They were quick, they played awful hard, they had a great scheme, they played up-tempo," said USA coach Steve Specht of his team's opponent. "That's a good football team. I told Pooch (Taase, American Samoa coach) afterwards, ‘you ought to be proud of your kids. They played their hearts out.'

"We had way too many stupid penalties but it was the first time we've played together so we've got things to clean up but we'll get better. I was proud of our kids' effort. They played hard. We've just got to get better."

Jesus Wilson opened the scoring for Team USA with an electrifying 77-yard scamper to give the United States a 6-0 lead 13 seconds into the game.

American Samoa drove to the US 39-yard line on its opening drive before the USA defense forced a punt. The USA offense took over at their own 20 and marched 80 yards in nine plays to extend the lead to 13-0 on a one-yard run by quarterback Brayden Scott. The big play on the drive was a 43-yard pass from Scott to DeMarcus Ayers to put the ball at the one.

American Samoa again drove deep into US territory before linebacker Cory Jasudowich forced a fumble by American Samoa running back Faafounia Sitagta that was recovered by Reggie Chevis to end the threat at the US 16-yard line.

Scott then directed an 84-yard, 15-play drive that ended with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Ayers for a 20-0 lead early in the second quarter.

"It felt really good to be out there," said Scott. "It's kind of funny playing a game in the summer but representing my country is something I'd if it was 100,000 degrees. I love representing my country and wearing USA across my chest. Give the credit to our offensive line and our defense. They did a really good job today."

American Samoa's next drive found the end zone as quarterback Ben Langford deftly directed his team's option offense on a 66-yard drive that chewed up four minutes on the clock before Howard Tautu scored from a yard out. The two-point conversion failed and the US lead stood at 20-6 with 5:45 left in the half.

"First of all, I'd like to congratulate Coach Specht and Team USA," said American Samoa coach Pooh Taase. "We learned a great lesson tonight. They just stopped our rhythm and did a great job getting us out of sync. I just told our kids now, learn from this and let's come back and play them again in a couple of years."

Buoyed by the score the American Samoa defense stiffened and forced a USA punt. The Samoans then drove to the US 39 before US defensive back Cameron Walker ended the drive with an interception at the 15-yard line with 1:04 in the half.

American Samoa looked to have turned the momentum late in the third quarter when punter Shalom Luani broke loose on a 25-yard run on 4th and 12 from the American Samoa 15 to turn the field position around. The Samoans stayed on the move into the fourth quarter before the USA defense stiffened and held American Samoa on downs at the USA 26.

"Shalom saw them all commit and he took off," explained coach Taase. "We talked about it all week and he knew what to do when he saw it.

"I think Shalom and Vincent Taala did a great job tonight. Vincent chased guys from side to side and they both played on both sides of the ball."

After an exchange of punts the USA took over at its own 14 with 8:09 to go in the game. Needing a score to put the game away, Scott completed four of five passes for 81 yards before Tarean Folston plunged the final yard to up the lead to 27-6 with 4:38 left in the game.

Wide receiver DeMarcus Ayers earned USA Team MVP honors with seven receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown.

Defensive back/punter Shalom Luani was named American Samoa Team MVP after averaging 35.5 yards per punt and recording four tackles along with his first down run on the fake punt.

The United States will face Austria in the semifinals of the IFAF U19 World Championship on July 4. American Samoa will meet Panama in the consolation round on July 3.

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