Canada advances to gold medal game at 2018 IFAF World Junior Championships
Host Mexico to meet Canada in championship final
Despite a near scare, Canada defeated Japan 28-22 in their semi-final game at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Mexico City, Mexico.
Canada opened the scoring when Tyson Philpot returned a punt for a 60 yard touchdown score to put the team up 1:45 into the first quarter.
However, Japan responds with 3:11 remaining in the 1st quarter by scoring a 1 yard rushing major to tie things up.
Canada’s offence starting to get things rolling in the second quarter. First, Andreas Dueck connects with Tyson Philpot who gets his second touchdown score of the game to put Canada ahead.
Soon after, Dueck finds Glodin Mulali for a major with 18 seconds remaining in the half.
At halftime, Canada led Japan 21-7.
A bit of a momentum shift took place in the second half, as Japan made some adjustments which proved to work in their favour.
With 7:43 left in the third quarter, Japan would score another touchdown; however, their one-point conversion attempt was not successful. Then, a punt snap went high through the end zone for a safety score to pull Japan to within six points of Canada.
Canada would increase their lead before the end of the third quarter when Dueck passes the ball to Freud Ernst Caesar for a major.
Japan was relentless and started to put pressure on the Canadian squad as they tallied a major with 9:23 left in the game.
Despite pressing hard late in the fourth quarter, Japan wasn’t able to get much closer and Canada overcame the adversity to punch their ticket to the gold medal game.
Tyson Philpot was named Player of the Game for Canada.
“It was a tough game all the way around,” commented Head Coach Steve Sumarah after the game. “We knew going in Japan was a well-coached, well-disciplined team.”“They really gave us fits. I was pretty excited going into halftime because I thought we had a lead to build on. We came out in the second half and Japan made some adjustments.
Their receiving core and quarterback played a phenomenal game; they made some plays and tightened the game right up for us.”
Weather and the atmosphere played a significant factor in Canada’s ability to perform at a high level throughout the game.
“The heat and altitude got to us late in the game,” added Sumarah. “I didn’t think we played as well or were disciplined.”
“We took some penalties at some inopportune times but as they say sometimes, you got to win ugly is winning. We will take that.”
Now Canada’s focus will turn to their goal of defending the gold against Mexico, who upset the United States 33-6 in the other semi-final.
“We are excited to go to the gold medal game,” Sumarah expressed. “It might be a bit of s surprise to most but we’re going to face a really good Mexican team, who look as good as anybody here.”
“On Sunday night, it will be pretty exciting for these kids. It should be a fantastic crowd here and we look forward to defending gold.”
The gold medal game between Canada and Mexico will be on Sunday July 22, 2018 at 5:00pm EST. It will be on CBCSports.ca.
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