Fifth-place game: Australia 42, South Korea 14
By Brad Bournival
CANTON, Ohio – There was no medal on the line Saturday when Australia beat South Korea, 42-14, to clinch fifth place at the International Federation of American Football World Championship.
Don’t think the game didn’t mean anything to the Outback (3-1) as Australia played with the usual zest the country is known for.
For the Australians, the win over South Korea (0-3) was a chance to show just how much it belonged on the world stage.
In 1999, Australia won just one time in three tries at the IFAFWC and were held out of the win column in four games to finish eighth in 2011.
Enter the 2015 games at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, and the Australians came with attitude and a yearning to excel.
“We just really wanted it because that’s how we are as Australians,” quarterback Jared Stegman said. “We don’t give up. We want to fight until the end of the whistle every play.
“It was never really a question of lying down for us. We wanted to come out and get the energy from the start of the game, which we didn’t have in the other games, learn from our mistakes and put it away.”
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Two plays – both that went for touchdowns – backed up that belief as Australia fought until the whistle blew on virtually every play.
The first came on a 6-yard touchdown run from Conor Foley. The 5-foot-11, 198-pound running back looked like he was swarmed under at the 10 on a third-and-goal situation. He was able to break two tackles and then spin out of another to give Australia a 14-point lead near the end of the first quarter.
The second came on an interception by Damien Donaldson, who is an option quarterback in his homeland. Donaldson picked the ball off on his 35 and returned it five yards before lateralling to Calvin Young, who raced 60 more yards to pay dirt to give the squad a 20-0 lead late in the second quarter.
“We want to make the most of every opportunity when we have the ball,” Australia coach John Leijten said. “We want to get on the scoreboard.”
Australia did that, and the numbers show it as Stegman was 18-of-27 for 224 yards and a touchdown – he tied a tournament record six touchdown passes. Daniel Strickland led the way with 88 yards on five catches, adding a score, and Tyson Garnham hauled in nine passes for 70 yards.
Nate Lansdel added a score and 39 yards rushing, and the Australian offense recorded three touchdowns on the ground.
“While we’re back home the next four years, we can do some tours of the Outback and progress to the next World Cup,” Strickland said. “We can come more fundamentally sound and jell as a team from Day 1.”
While South Korea goes home winless, it did make history when San Hong Kim scored the country’s first offensive touchdown in IFAFWC history and backed it up when Bo Sung Park ran one in as well.
“This tournament allowed our players and staff to not only experience physically but to see what American football is outside of South Korea,” head coach Sun II Beak said “From Day 1 until Sunday when we leave, it will be a learning process. I would like to take what I learned here and apply it to South Korea.”