Special to Profootballhof.com
Game recap provided by IFAF and USA Football
Fourth of July fireworks came a week early to Canton, Ohio.
USA Football Junior National Team head coach Chuck Kyle lit the fuse and the play of his 45 men "ooed" and "ahhed" more than 10,000 fans en route to a 78-0 victory against Team France Saturday night.
The game was the fourth of four First Round contests in the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) Junior World Championship in Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium, adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
It was a day to remember for football fans the world over as the sport's first junior world championship ushered in a new era in its long and storied history.
With competing teams from eight countries spanning four continents, football has truly gone global.
Behind the exploits of running back David Wilson, Team USA jumped ahead and was never in danger of losing its cushion. The 5-11, 192-pound rusher from Danville, Va., soon to play for Coach Frank Beamer at Virginia Tech, carried the ball 12 times for 181 yards and four touchdowns, with a long run of 60 yards for a TD.
IFAF's tradition is to announce a most valuable player for every world championship game. The future Hokie made that selection easy with a night where his speed and strength fried the French and brought the crowd to its feet with regularity.
Team USA led 24-0 at the end of the first quarter and 37-0 at halftime.
Defensively, 16 American players recorded a tackle, led by safety Chris Payne (South Carolina) with eight. Fellow safety Corey Lillard (Virginia) picked off a pair of French passes as the team's 3-3-5 defensive alignment limited Team France to 7 total yards, averaging 0.1 yards per play.
"This was the first time in two weeks that I could actually turn to these guys and not say, 'Stop! Don't hit him,'" said Kyle. "I don't like it when games get like that (one-sided), but I don't know how I could've changed that from happening."
What happened was Team USA's offensive line doubled as a people mover, splitting the French defense like a banana at Dairy Queen, then transforming itself into conveyor belt, helping running backs Wilson (4), Brian Fields (2), Zach Cutkomp, James Hall and quarterback Phillip Butterfield take an express lane to the end zone.
And the 10,145 fans who attended the four games from 10 a.m. through 11 p.m. under chamber-of-commerce-like weather conditions loved every minute of a historic day in football history.
"I treated France like they were the No. 1-seed," said linebacker Storm Klein who will suit up for Jim Tressel's Ohio State Buckeyes this fall. "That's what you have to do. Underdogs are even more dangerous than teams that are supposed to beat you."
America's Team racked up 610 total offensive yards against France's 7 and posted 27 first downs opposed to France's 5.
USA Football's Junior National Team was far from perfect, however, committing 11 penalties for 110 yards.
France head coach Olivier Moret said of his team: "I am proud that they are here playing this game. I have a lot of respect for them. They know what it takes to play the best in the world and now they have the tools to get better.
"We knew that it would be a really tough game to play. When we qualified by finishing third in the European Junior Championship we knew we would play USA this July. "(USA) had more days of camp than us, they are bigger, faster and stronger and they were more prepared.
"Football is a game of fight and you have to prepare them to play well, even though you know the game will be long and lost."
Running back Thomas Ruiz, who earned France's MVP award, said: "It is the toughest game I have ever played. But it was also the best. I have learned today that I have got to work harder."
Score by Quarters
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Follow the 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship at www.JWCFootball.com