USA took care of Australia 61-0 in the opening game of the World Championship

The United States began its defense of the IFAF Senior World Championship of American football with a 61-0 victory over a determined Australia in the tournament’s opening game in front of a crowd of 6,000 at the Tivoli Stadium in Innsbruck.

Running back Da’Shawn Thomas paved the way with 97 yards and two first half rushing touchdowns on 8 carries, and defensive tackle Daniel Catalano led a dominant U.S. defense early on as the defending champions surged 34-0 ahead at halftime and then tagged on 27 more points, while rotating their quarterbacks in the second half.

Former University of Colorado quarterback Cody Hawkins (13-15-204, 2TD passing) and Australia running back Nathan Lansdell (7-28 rushing) of the Rockingham Vipers won the game’s MVP awards.

Tyson Garnham took the United States’ opening kick off to the 40-yard mark, but Catalano produced a sack for a loss of six yards on the tournament’s first play from scrimmage, signaling that he and John Jacobs (5.5 tackles) would dominate the line.

Australia was forced to punt without making a first down and despite the absence of NFL punter Ben Graham, Steven Baker boomed a punt to the USA 6-yard mark.

The Outback defense forced USA back to its own one-yard line to punt, but then the U.S. defense again stepped up and produced the first touchdown of the tournament. Cornerback Diezeas Calbert returned a blocked punt 26 yards to put six points on the board, but a poor snap denied the Americans the extra point.

The U.S. took over at the 22-yard line and moved swiftly downfield with Nate Kmic the workhorse. An eight-yard run by Thomas led to a third and two, and a Hawkins scramble and a 4-yard pass to Kmic for a touchdown earned a 13-0 end of first quarter lead.

After Australia again went three and out, Hawkins connected with Kmic to take the ball two Australia’s 25-yard mark, another pass to Kmic earned a first down and on the next play Thomas found the seam and dashed in for a 12-yard touchdown. The U.S. led 20-0 with 9.43 remaining in the half.

Australia started to move the ball as Kiernan Dorney connected with receiver Ryan Dwyer for a first down, but Catalano again came up with a tackle for loss and a third and long pass was almost intercepted by corner Stephan Virgil, forcing Australia to punt.

Hawkins went to Alex Anderson and Kmic to make steady progress before Thomas took a handoff to the sideline from 48 yards out, cut into the middle and found space to reach the end zone for his second touchdown and a 27-0 lead with 4.32 left in the half.

With 1.07 remaining, the U.S. had the ball inside the red zone again and the coaching staff drew up the perfect play as Hawkins found a wide open Anderson in the corner of the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown and a 34-0 halftime lead.

With Ben McLaughlin under center, The United States momentum continued after the break as the new quarterback hit Jason Heller for a first down, tight end Mike Peterson over the middle for a nine-yard gain and then Henry Harris to move to within five yards of paydirt. From there Harris rushed up the middle for a touchdown and a 41-point lead.

Matt Bassuener took over at the helm for the U.S. on the next drive and after finding Kmic and Micah Brown for gains, handed off for Taylor Malm to gain yards before finding a cutting Brown for an 11-yard touchdown, but the extra point was blocked.

Outback quarterback Dorney defiantly led his team briefly downfield before Osayi Osunde forced Australia to punt to end the third quarter with the U.S. leading 47-0.

Australian linebacker Ryan Ottens sacked McLaughlin for a loss of 9 yards, but the quarterback picked himself up to throw a perfect 64-yard spiral to Malm, who caught the ball in stride for a spectacular touchdown and a 54-0 lead after the PAT.

U.S. running back Harris made a 32-yard gain to Australia’s 20-yd line then after earning more yards, was stopped on third down. The Americans opted to go for broke on fourth down and Harris responded with a three-yard scoring run for a 61-point lead after Greggery Berkshire’s extra point.

Australia breached U.S. territory late in the game, but Kelvin Howsan came up with a stop, tackling Nathan Lansdell for a loss of a yard, and when Australia went for it on fourth down, Joe Sturdivant came up with an interception to end the contest.

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