Canada earns spot in gold medal game with 28-21 victory over Mexico
Canada to face USA on July 10 at 5 a.m. ET
Canada defeated Mexico 28-21 on Thursday July 7 to secure a berth in the gold medal game on July 10 at 5 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) at the 2016 IFAF U19 World Championship in Harbin, China. Canada will face defending gold medalist, the U.S. in the finals for the fourth time in four U19 tournaments as the Americans defeated Japan, 50-20, in Thursday’s earlier semi-final. Canada will look to even their finals record at two, hoping to follow in the footsteps of the 2012 Junior National Team who defeated the U.S. to capture gold in Austin, Texas.
Thursday’s game between Mexico and Canada was the second in three tournament contests that the two nations played as Canada opened the worlds with a 30-16 win over the defending bronze medalists. Ironically, prior to 2016, the two countries had never faced one another in IFAF U19 World Championship competition.
The Canada defense came out of the gate strong to start the rematch, pinning Mexico inside their own 20-yard line. On third down, linebacker Deshawn Stevens (Toronto, ON) came off the edge of the line and took down the Mexico pivot.
Following the sack, Canada gained possession at midfield. The red and white drive culminated when Vincent Blanchard (St-Germain-de-Grantham, QC) split the uprights from 41-yard out to give Canada an early 3-0 lead.
Blanchard continued to be a difference maker as late in the opening quarter, on fourth down, the punter received the snap but saw daylight and took off along the sideline. The fake punt run gave Canada a first down inside the Mexico 30-yard line.
Following the fourth down fake, the Canada offense would stall just outside the Mexico 10-yard line. Facing fourth down, the red and white lined up for a field goal. Mexico was unprepared for what happened next. Holder, Dimitri Morand (Gatineau, QC), who also started at quarterback, received the snap at the 20-yard line and pitched the ball forward to Nick Cross (Regina, SK), who found daylight as he ran into the end zone. The trickery extended Canada’s lead to 10.
Late in the second quarter, the Canada defense continued to disrupt the Mexico attack as linebacker Eric Thakurdeen (Saskatoon, SK) settled under a Mexico tipped pass by defensive back, Kaylyn Smith St-Cyr. Thakurdeen rumbled from midfield to the Mexico 30-yard line.
The turnover would set up a late second quarter 30-yard, Vincent Blanchard, field goal to widen Canada’s advantage to 13-0, heading into halftime.
Just like their opening game, Canada and Mexico traded touchdowns in the second half.
Mexico opened the offensive infusion, finding the end zone on a 3-yard quarterback keeper to make the score 13-7.
Canada responded on their next possession as Félix Lussier-Roy (Sherbrooke, QC) scored on a 14-yard run to increase Canada’s lead, 20-7. The run was set-up by a third down Dimitri Morand screen pass to Samuel Makwanda (Laval, QC) who took the ball from nearly midfield to just outside the Mexico 10-yard line.
On their following possession, Mexico made the score 20-14 on another goalline quarterback run.
Canada wasted little time to respond, this time around, as following a fair catch on the ensuing kickoff, Félix Lussier-Roy took the ball 80-yards on the ground, past a pair of outstretched defenders at the goalline and into the end zone. A successful two-point conversion made the score 28-14.
With his two-touchdown performance, Lussier-Roy earned Canada’s player of the game honours for the second-straight game.
Mexico made a valiant late-game push, adding a 13-yard touchdown through the air, but it was too little, too late. Following the major, Canada recovered the Mexico onside kickoff to seal the victory.
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