Tim Glon (USA Football)
The U.S. Under-19 National Team pulled away Monday behind 21 fourth quarter points and defeated Mexico, 49-14, in the opening game of the IFAF Under-19 World Championships at Al-Salmiya Stadium in Kuwait City, Kuwait. The U.S. improves to 1-0 in Pool B play and will face Germany at 4 p.m. ET Thursday (11 p.m. local time).
Shaquille Anderson (Cambridge, Mass; St. Thomas College), ran three times for 105 yards and two touchdowns to earn Game MVP honors for the U.S. “It was a great team effort,” Anderson said. “We had guys making plays all night. I want to dedicate my MVP award to my best friend, Tim Adams, who passed away two days ago.
My effort tonight was for him.” Anderson ran for a 13-yard touchdown in the second quarter, then raced in on a 90-yard TD run with 5:31 left in the game. Josh Stevens (Ormond Beach, Fla.; Merced) ran nine times for a game-high 111 yards and touchdowns of 1 and 77 yards. Quarterback Bryan Scott (Rolling Hills, Calif.; Occidental) completed 8-of-14 passes for 126 yards and a TD and Easton Melancon (Ama, La.; Louisiana College) completed 2-of-3 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown and ran for another score.
Defensively, Trae Lofton (Maysville, Ky.; Piketon H.S.) had nine tackles and an interception, Jakob Racimo (Olympia, Wash.; North Dakota State College of Science) had seven tackles and Brandon Roe (Douglas, Ga.; Jacksonville) had an interception for the USA.
The United States led, 28-0, late in the third period before Mexico scored twice in a 24-second span to pull within 28-14 and switched momentum away from the Americans for the first time in the game. Victor Cruz hit Maximillo Hernandez on a 28-yard touchdown pass with 16 seconds left in the third period to pull Mexico within 28-7.
Then Jose Mezquitic returned an interception 16 yards for a score on the first play of the fourth quarter and it was 28-14 with 11:52 left to play. Undaunted, Melancon led the USA on a three-play, 58-yard drive and scampered in from 25 yards out to extend the lead to 35-14 with 10:55 to go.
The USA defense held and Anderson iced the game with his 90-yard burst off the left side to make it 42-14 with 5:31 remaining. Sasha Kelsey made a spectacular play on the game’s final score, reversing fields twice to score on a 39-yard screen pass with 3:29 left. “It was very difficult to pick an MVP for us because so many people made plays for tonight,” U.S. head coach Aaron Brady said.
“I was very proud of our defense. They got some big stops in the first half deep in our end of the field that kept Mexico off the board. If they score those times, it could have been a different game in the second half. “Our receivers did a great job of blocking downfield, which allowed us to break some big plays. Our offensive line did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage.
Those things are what good teams do to win ball games.” It did not take long for the Americans to get on the board, marching 45 yards in five plays on the opening possession to score on a 1-yard run by Anderson just 1:32 into the game. Bryan Scott then hit Kahneil Bruce (Cambridge, Mass.; Nassau CC) on a 74-yard pass to put the U.S. up 14-0 with 9:09 left in the half.
After a 57-yard punt return by Deeldrick Taylor (Alexandria, La.; Fresno City College) gave the U.S. the ball at the Mexico 13-yard line, Anderson swept in on the next play to make it 21-0 with 7:00 left before intermission. Mexico had several opportunities to score in the first half, marching into the USA red zone only to be thwarted by the American defense each time.
Roe’s interception stopped the first Mexican threat with 11:45 to play in the second period, then Omar Naguib (Cupertino, Calif.; DeAnza) sacked Cruz on a fourth-and-2 from the USA 10 with 3:43 left in the half to keep the score 21-0. In the third period, Mexico drove to the U.S. 18-yard line, but Thomas Reed (Deer Park, N.Y.; Lackawana) tipped a 41-yard field goal to stop another Mexican scoring chance. Stevens exploded up the middle for a 77-yard run on the game’s next play to put the U.S. ahead 28-0 with 6:41 left in the third period. USA out-gained Mexico, 474-222, in total offense, including a 298-104 advantage on the ground.
The U.S. was efficient on offense in the second half, running just 11 plays from scrimmage while scoring four touchdowns in the final 24 minutes. As a result, Mexico possessed the ball for 33:17 compared to just 14:43 for the Americans.