KAWASAKI – American football is a wild sport. And it gets wilder when the two teams in a great rivalry clash under wild weather conditions.
That was exactly the case when Germany battled its European archrival Sweden for third place in the 3rd IFAF World Championship on Saturday at a rain-pouring Kawasaki Stadium.
Marcel Duft returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown with 2:26 left in the third quarter as Germany won the bronze medal by defeating Sweden 7-0. Sweden finished in fourth place the six-nation tourney.
Water splashed into the air every time a player went down as a continuous rain fell and made both the ball and field slippery. Germany had four fumbles, losing one, and both teams had their share of muffs during the game. Despite the rain, Sweden deployed a pass-oriented attack, but because of the slippery conditions, its receivers dropped some potential big-play passes.
On the contrary, Germany went conservatively on the ground to secure the ball. But the Germans lacked explosive plays and failed to get a first down in a scoreless first half.
Germany’s offense finally showed its explosive side in the second half as Patrick Geiger rushed 49 yards to the Sweden 29 on the first play of the third quarter, giving the Germans a scoring chance. But, Seteffen Doelger’s 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
The momentum went to neither way until the midway through the third period, when Germany broke the scoreless tie with a big play on special teams.
After forcing Sweden to punt on its second possession of the half, Duft took the punt and ran along the right sideline for an 85-yard touchdown with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
Germany missed another scoring chance in the fourth quarter. Oliver Flemming picked off a pass by Sweden s backup quarterback Sean Cotton and returned it to the Swedish 22. Germany, however, lost the ball on a fumble during the second play of the possession when quarterback Dennis Zimmermann dropped a snap.
Sweden had a chance to even the score when it had the ball at the German 27 with 11 seconds to play after the German punter muffed a snap on the fourth down. But two pass attempts by Paul Durand were incomplete and Germany sealed the victory.
The two teams had taken on each other twice in 2005 with each earning a win. Germany defeated Sweden in the final of the World Games in Duisburg, Germany. Sweden took the revenge of the loss a week later by beating Germany in the European qualification tournament for the World Championship.
Earlier in the day, South Korea defeated France 3-0 for fifth place as Choi Kyung Ho of Osaka Sangyo University kicked a 29-yard field goal with 2:09 left in the game.
It was South Korea’s first offensive score in the World Championships and South Korea recorded its second victory ever in an international tournament, following to a win over Australia last January in the Asia/Oceania qualification tournament for the World Championship.
As the weather is expected to get wilder in the Kanto area on Sunday, the organizers said they will announce on Sunday morning on the official web site of the World Championship whether the Sunday s final between Japan and the United States will be played or not.
According to the organizers, the game will be likely be played, but there is still a possibility that the final will be canceled. The official announcement will be uploaded at wc2007.info/ around 10 a.m. Sunday morning.