Canada 1 beats European champion Austria to advance to the IFAF U20 World Championship Gold Medal match

by Braydon Stachel

Photo Credits: Moush John / IFAF

Canada 1 recovered from trailing to Austria at halftime to a dramatic win, beating the European Champion 27-20 and punching their ticket to the 2024 IFAF U20s World Junior Championship game against Japan this Sunday at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, kickoff 5 PM local time. 

“We just competed up until the last second with Canada,” said Austria head coach Roman Floredo, who will be in charge of Austria for the last time when they battle the United States for third place on Sunday at 12 PM. “I want to finish now with a medal.” 

The six-time European champions took the game to the reigning world champions who are seeking a third straight title and scored first on a long well-executed drive that started at their own 25-yard mark and ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Kevin Stanisi. 

Even after Canada tied things up at 7-7 by capitalizing on an interception that set up a 19-yard pass from Pepe Gonzalez to Nathan Carignan, Austria hit straight back. Friz Michael Bleckmann’s 9-yard rushing touchdown regained the lead and Lorenz Kriwak added a 29-yard field goal to the two extra points he had slotted between the uprights. 

Canada had to settle for a 20-yard Jayden Rice field goal as the first-half clock ticked down and they trailed 17-10 at the interval. 

“I can’t give enough credit to Austria,” said Canada head coach Warren Craney. “They are so well coached, and they executed tremendously.  

“It took us a half to get going. We came in and we had a good talk with the players, and we made a couple of adjustments. We got the big defensive stop and the blocked punt and the defense really picked it up in the second half.” 

Canada levelled the scores again for a second time with a second touchdown pass to MVP Carignan, this time from 19 yards out. The momentum shift came on a botched play as Austria attempted to punt from their own end zone, but a blocked kick was recovered by Charles-Oliver Cyr and Canada led for the first time at 24-17. 

The teams traded fourth quarter field goals and defending a slim 27-20 lead, Canada held on in the dying minutes. 

“We just gave it away,” said Austrian MVP, quarterback Michael Szabo, who passed for 178 yards. “It was in our hands. We lost by only one touchdown to Canada and for a European team, that’s crazy.” 

(H/T: Michael Preston, IFAF)

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