ECJ2000: France produces late heroics

Category: - published 2000-07-30 by EFAF

French wide receiver Nordine Ben-Mimoun went from villain to hero as his team clinched a dramatic 21-17 victory over a determined young Austria team with just 44 seconds remaining in the opening game of the Wilson 2000 European Junior Championships.

The crowd at the Jahnstadion in Berlin, Germany, could not have wished for more excitement as on the very first play of the tournament Ben-Mimoun fumbled the tournament's opening kickoff at his own ten-yard line to open the way for Austria to take an early lead. But the wideout became the French hero with a spectacular 11-yard touchdown catch to seal victory in the final minute.

Austria cornerback Florian Morth recovered Ben-Mimoun's original mistake and his team was quick to capitalise on third down at the six yard mark when quarterback Viktor Skradski hit wideout Gerhard Koruna for the opening touchdown and Nikolas Gutmann added the extra point for an instant 7-0 lead.

After France went three and out in reply Skradski saw his first pass of the second Austrian series intercepted by Vincent Gueukmen, but France was unable to capitalise, then survived an aerial Austrian bombardment, forcing them to punt.

Starting from their own six yard line France marched impressively downfield to level the scores, with running backs Charles Henri Lorin and Belkacem Moussouni doing most of the damage on the ground.

Ben-Mimoun began to redeem himself with a 26-yard reception to give France the ball at the six-yard line, then a gutsy call on fourth down with the game now in the second quarter sent Belkacem in for a rushing touchdown and Ben-Mimoun tied the game with the extra point.

Fourth down again proved successful for France on their next drive when a screen pass intended to make a first down near midfield resulted in Sebastien Cazalis breaking tackles to race 41 yards to the end zone and a 14-7 lead with five minutes remaining in the half.

Linebacker Mario Floredo recovered the ball when French quarterback Benjamin Godard was stripped of the ball inside his own red zone and Austria again went to the air with some success, but had to settle for a 29-yard Gutmann field goal to pull within four points at halftime.

Following a defensive third quarter Austria regained the lead with a trick play when they lined up for a 19-yard field goal, but Philipp Jobstmann instead threw a touchdown pass to Lukas Daum and Gutmann added the PAT for a 17-14 lead.

Drama at the end saw France lose quarterback Godard, who had completed 6 of 14 attempts for 118 yards and a touchdown, leaving Jerome Faundez to step in and find Lorin at the Austrian one-yard line.

With the clock ticking down, two false start penalties moved France in the wrong direction before Faundez found a leaping Ben-Mimoun in double coverage in the corner of the end zone to spark French celebrations.

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