Australia 16, Brazil 8
By Brad Bournival
CANTON, Ohio – As the Australian national anthem was coming to an end Wednesday in a game against Brazil, Outback defensive back Damien Molloy ran out with flag in hand to the 50-yard line and planted it firmly on the logo at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. He motioned to Brazil flag bearer Delmer Zoschke and the rest of the team to “bring it.”
Make no mistake, the act before a 16-8 win wasn’t meant as a sign of disrespect, rather it was a signal to the opposition that Molloy’s squad was ready for Game No. 3 in the International Federation of American Football World Championship.
Three days earlier, Australia stubbed its collective toe in a 50-point loss to France. It was a stark contrast from a 41-point win over South Korea to open the tournament.
“Our focus (following the loss to France) immediately turned to Brazil,” Australia head coach John Leijten said. “We knew (Brazil) had only been around seven years, but when you look at these guys, they all have a bright future despite limited experience.
“The first game and the second game were over at half. We had to play 48 minutes (today), but that gives you confidence that you can close out a game.”
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Australia (2-1) came out ready, ultimately gaining a lead it never gave up as a 58-yard touchdown pass from Jared Stegman (11-of-16, 140 yards, touchdown) to Matt Riles opened the scoring.
Fullback Nate Lansdel went in from 4 yards out two drives later and put Brazil (1-2) down 16 after the first 12 minutes. It was a quarter in which Australia outgained its counterpart, 134-8.
“It was like the French game (a 31-6 loss),” Brazil defensive back and team MVP Igor Mota said. “If you start well, you’ll finish well. If you start bad, you’ll finish bad. You have to fight three times as hard to come back.”
Despite the start, Brazil did come back and closed within a score when Felipe Leiria caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rodrigo Dantas (11-of-21, 126 yards) and Breno Tkashashi converted the two-point conversion with 3:06 remaining.
Brazil was able to get the ball back after a three-and-out by Australia, but an interception by Damien Donaldson with 58 seconds left iced it.
The win brings Australia back Saturday a fifth-place game with South Korea. It also brings a ton of confidence to the Outbacks.
“We know what we have to do to beat them,” Australia defensive lineman and team MVP Carlisle Jones said. “Obviously, we did that the first time. We just have to watch more film and study what they’ve done different from the first game.
“They’ve played two games now. They’ll probably pull out a few more packages. We know we’re good enough to beat them.”