American Samoa showed their dominance at Under 19 level with a comprehensive 93-7 victory over Australia in hurricane-like weather conditions to win the 2012 Oceania Bowl and qualify for the 2012 IFAF U19 World Championship.
Australia’s Gold Coast was pounded by a storm that dumped more than three inches of torrential rain on the playing field before and during the clash down under at the Runaway Bay Sports Center.Running back and offensive MVP Faafouina Sitagata carried the ball 12 times for 107 yards and 3 touchdowns in the rout, while Nathaniel Tuamohelo had 99 yards and a touchdown on the ground as American Samoa scored 8 rushing touchdowns and racked up 359 yards on the ground.
Wide receiver Elliot Peters had three catches, all in the end zone and Shalom Luani scored on a punt return, interception return, two-point run and an extra point kick.
Australia struggled to impact the final stats but wide receiver / kick returner Brandt Honda impressed with 125 return yards and 2 receptions for 17 yards. Captain and defensive back Bert Harris was the top defensive contributor with 8 tackles including 2 for a loss.
“Those were the toughest conditions those kids are ever going to play under but they didn’t give up and kept fighting the Samoans, injures and the weather right to the final whistle,” said Australia head coach Peter Tos.
Australia’s staring quarterback Kieran Lansdell left the game early in the second half after a 10-yard run and a hit out of bounds left him unable to continue and things worsened when back up Billal Nahas was injured on the very next play and Australia lost the fumble. The final blow came when third string signal-caller Simon Whitehead was forced from the field early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury and a limping Lansdell was pressed into service to finish the game his nation.
“It was a hard lesson to learn for our players and coaches but I’m proud of how they dealt with the adversity and we’ll take that spirit and build on it to get better and come back and get a better result next time,” added Tos. “And that American Samoa team – they are going to make teams sit up and pay attention at the IFAF Under 19 World Championship.”
The lopsided score evoked memories of 2001 when the Australian national soccer team defeated American Samoa with a world record score of 31-0 in FIFA World Cup qualifying.
Australia stopped the visitors on their first drive, but then Lansdell was intercepted by defensive MVP C.J. Afalava who ended the day with and additional five tackles and a forced fumble. Four plays later a 17-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gabriel Collins passes to Peters and an Afalava run for two points meant the Samoans held a slim eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The ground game proved to be the visitors’ path to complete dominance as they overpowered their hosts with 30 unanswered second quarter points to take a 38-0 lead into the halftime break.
Sitagata breached the end zone from 13 yards out and Luani’s carry added two points as kicking extra points was abandoned due to the torrid weather conditions.
The Collins to Peters connection, this time over seven yards and an Abraham Fata two-point rush opened the lead to 24 points before Fata raced to pay dirt for six from six yards out. Sitagata’s second carry for a score from 11 yards out and an Aloese Sua two-point run completed the first half scoring.
In the second half, Australia could find no answer to the relentless American Samoa blue wave hurry-up offense, which again scored four touchdowns in a quarter.
Tuamohelo opened the half with a spectacular 44-yard race to the end zone and Shalom Luani tagged on the extra point, before Peters made his third scoring grab from 15 yards out from Lolani Faaloua, but the kick failed.
Zach Langkilde recovered a Fata fumble in the end zone for another touchdown and Sitagata’s run added on two more points. Faaloua scored a quarterback keeper from 13 yards out and Tuamohelo added the two-point conversion so American Samoa led 67-0 heading into the fourth quarter.
The American Samoa special teams got in on the act as Luani returned Joshua Bell’s punt 90 yards to score before Sitagata burst 37 yards to score. Australia got on the board when a battling Lansdell hit Darcy Dignam from eight yards out and Joshua Bell connected with the extra point.
But the Samoans regrouped quickly as Fata scored his second touchdown of the contest from seven yards out and a Faaloua pass to Ryan Petala raised the score to 87-7.
Australia then pressed to have the final say, but the injured Lansdell was intercepted by Luani, who raced 70 yards for a touchdown.
SCORE BY QUARTERS 1 2 3 4 FINAL
American Samoa 8 30 29 26 93
Australia 0 0 0 7 7