France 53, Australia 3
By Brad Bournival
CANTON, Ohio – French coach Patrick Esume knows only one speed with his national team.
That speed is something that would make even the finickiest Bugatti owner jealous. The way Esume sees it, the offense should start out hot like a sports car and leave opponents in its collective dust.
Through two games, France is doing just that and equaled its best start to open the International Federation of American Football World Championship with another scorcher Sunday in a 53-3 win over Australia.
CLICK HERE: Final Box Score — France 53, Australia 3
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France, which has outscored its opposition by 75 points in two games, jumped out to a 10-point lead after the first quarter and a 30-point advantage at intermission to roll into Game 3.
“We put the foot on the pedal and keep driving,” French kick returner and team MVP Anthony Dable said. “We want to let them know that we are here to play football. It relaxes us. We can keep doing what we want to do and be a great offense.”
Much like its win over Brazil where Dable opened the contest with a 102-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, France (2-0) used special teams to get things going.
Dable returned the opening kickoff to the Australia 27 and watched as Paul Durand hooked up with Kevin Mwamba for a 4-yard score four plays later.
The 6-foot-4, 209-pound Dable added another long touchdown return – this one from 92 yards away midway through the second quarter.
Heading into France’s game Wednesday, Dable has three kick returns for 260 yards (86.7 per touch) with the aforementioned two scores, as the French have made special teams a weapon at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
“It’s very important,” Esume said. “I was a special teams coordinator in NFL Europe and a special teams assistant with the (Cleveland) Browns. Special teams is my strength. I pride myself in being a good special teams coach.
“I told the guys in order to hang in with the USA, Mexico and Japan, the three big ones, we have to be exceptional on special teams.”
It wasn’t just special teams against Australia (1-1) though, as France dominated on the offensive front.
In the first half, France saw running back Stephan Yepmo (13 carries, 110 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Durand (6-of-10, 73 yards, TD) put up big numbers. In the second half, Nicholas Khandar (5 carries, 109 yards, 2 touchdowns) provided the offensive firepower.
By the time it was done, the Australians gave up 327 yards on 44 plays for an average of 7.4 yards per snap. France logged four plays of 20 yards or more and three returns of 46 yards or more.
“We tried to fight quite hard,” Australian defensive end and team MVP Damian Donaldson. “It was minor details of a guy sliding to the wrong gap that gave them the explosiveness they needed to score early.”