Second-half rally spurs Canada to victory over Mexico
Canada to face U.S. on July 3 at 4 a.m. ET in China
Canada’s Junior National Team overcame a 16-3 first half deficit, defeating Mexico 30-16 to open action on Thursday June 30 at the 2016 IFAF U19 World Championship in Harbin, China. Canada will now play the U.S. on Sunday July 3 at 4 p.m. local time (4 a.m. ET). The U.S. defeated Austria 65-14 in Thursday’s late afternoon game.
When the game began, following a roughly 45-minute weather delay, Canada started out strong. They forced a Mexico three-and-out to open the first game between the two nations in junior men’s competition, and took over at their opponent’s 40-yard line.
They looked to have taken full advantage of excellent starting field position after a long Félix Lussier-Roy (Sherbrooke, QC) run gave Canada a first and goal opportunity. However, a third down Mexico interception stopped the red and white’s drive dead in it’s tracks.
Later in the opening quarter, Canada opened the scoring with a Vincent Blanchard (St-Germain-de-Grantham, QC) field goal from the 20-yard line. The opening score gave Canada an early 3-0.
Mexico’s defense continued to give Canada problems as they forced their second of four interceptions on the night, giving their offense the ball at the Canada 20-yard line. Mexico took full advantage, capitalizing with a rushing touchdown from their quarterback to take a 7-3 lead.
A pair of defensive plays gave Mexico a commanding 16-3 halftime advantage. Following a punt that was downed at the Canada 1-yard line, Mexico sacked quarterback Dimitri Morand in the end zone, making the score 9-3. Next a Mexico defender stepped in front of a Canada pass, returning it to the end zone for a major.
Canada returned from halftime looking to bounce back from a disappointing first half of play.
They did just that, narrowing the deficit 16-10 as quarterback Dimitri Morand (Gatineau, QC) connected with receiver Khalik “KJ” Johnson (Surrey, BC) on a 17-yard touchdown strike. The score was set-up by an interception near midfield, created when a pass glanced off the hands of a Mexico receiver and into those of linebacker Deshawn Stevens (Toronto, ON).
Canada continued to mount a comeback as Morand scrambled into the end zone, electing to keep the ball himself on a quarterback read-option, to tie the game up at 16, nearing the end of the third quarter.
Following a 29-yard Vincent Blanchard field goal attempt that was blocked by Mexico, Canada received new life as linebacker Nicholas Cross (Regina, SK), Canada’s player of the game recipient, blocked a punt that was downed inside the Mexico 15-yard line.
Canada wasted little time, as on the very next play, Félix Lussier-Roy (Sherbrooke, QC) ran the ball into the end zone to make the score 23-16, giving the red and white their first lead since the opening quarter.
Lussier-Roy would add a second rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter to seal the Canada victory, 30-16.
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