The 2014 International Bowl features two days of games at the University of Texas-Arlington’s Maverick Stadium, but the headlining contest is the Under-19 showdown between the U.S. national team and a squad assembled by Football Canada.
The United States easily handled Canada to the tune of 43-7 in the fifth edition of the annual contest.
Setting the Stage
Joe Frollo of USAFootball.com set the stage for the affair: “That’s not a lot of time to bring a team of 47 players and eight coaches together to compete at their best. This is not an All-Star Game. It’s two national teams competing for their countries’ pride.”
Many of the players who littered the U.S. roster have already committed to premier schools at the collegiate level, so the impressive performance was noteworthy if you are a college football fan.
USA Football’s website listed the American roster that included commits to Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Alabama and Michigan State among others.
Tyrann Mathieu and Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston are both counted among the alumni of the International Bowl, so the 2014 version of the game may well have featured a future college football superstar.
On the night that the opening ceremony of the Olympics was being broadcast stateside, it was appropriate that the American team hit the field with a flag-bearer.
Stanford football’s official Twitter page pointed out it was Cardinal commit Harrison Phillips:
Canada took an early lead with a defensive touchdown off the fumble, but the American defense picked up some momentum as the first half went on. Stanford’s assistant athletic director Mike Eubanks pointed out that Phillips was a big part of that:
The biggest turning point in the first half was the special teams play of the United States team.
The Americans blocked a punt but were unable to convert on the good field position, but it was Oregon commit Charles Nelson who later gave the U.S. its first real separation with a punt return touchdown, per USA Football:
Any Ducks fans who are worried about the loss of De’Anthony Thomas should take note that Nelson demonstrated the type of speed Oregon is known for on the return.
The punt return was the proverbial straw that broke Canada’s back, as the Americans’ superior speed, athleticism and physicality showed through for the majority of the contest. The offensive line was regularly pancake blocking defenders and paving the way for ball-carriers and the quarterbacks.
North Carolina State commit Jalan McClendon was particularly impressive as a signal-caller, leading the U.S. on an formidable touchdown drive early when the game was still in doubt.
Outside of the American domination, another storyline was the heated play between the two sides.
Kevin McGuire, a contributor to NBCSports.com, pointed out the chippy play:
It really isn’t much of a surprise when national pride is on the line that these high school prospects were hot-tempered at times. Throw in the fact that it was largely a one-sided affair, and it was a recipe for some personal fouls.
As the game got more out of hand, there was an ACC connection for a second-half touchdown:
Despite the high point total for the Americans, it was the defense that was the story of the game. Canada did not score an offensive touchdown and couldn’t move the ball consistently thanks to constant pressure at the front line.
The players of the game were Nelson for the U.S. team, largely on the back of his punt return and production in the slot as a wide receiver, and Trivel Pinto for team Canada. Pinto plays receiver on the Metro Toronto Wildcats football club.
The formidable play from the litany of prospects bodes well for the immediate future of college football. Considering the variety and explosiveness of offenses that defenses are forced to deal with at the college level, an injection of impressive defenders couldn’t come at a better time.
While the U-19 game was the headlining event, the International Bowl as a whole is far from over:
Tune in to see potential college football stars of the future.
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