KAWASAKI, JAPAN – Rob Rodriguez blocked two punts and Diezeas Calbert returned an interception 58 yards for a score to lead the United States to a 33-7 win over Germany on the final day of pool play in the 2007 World Championship of American Football.
The United States will meet the winner of tonight’s Japan-Sweden game in the championship game on Sunday afternoon in Kawasaki.
Team USA got off to another fast start as it forced Germany into a three-and-out on its first possession of the game. A short Germany punt set the U.S. up at mid-field and four plays later Cody Childs found the end zone to give the U.S. a 7-0 lead with 9:20 to in the first quarter.
Childs now has three touchdowns in two games and is among the tournament scoring leaders with 18 points.
"It’s nice to be able to contribute and help the team," Childs said. "We’ve got three other amazing runningbacks so it could be any one of us scoring it just happens to be that I’m in there at the right time. The scheme that we use works real well with all of our running styles."
After a short Germany drive on the ensuing possession Bobby Awrey set the U.S. up with great field position with a 37-yard punt return down to the Germany 40 yard line. Quarterback Adam Austin hit Marcus Lewis on a slip screen for a 37-yard gain to the Germany 3-yard line Wendell Johnson scored on the next play to extend the lead to 14-0 with 5:12 to go in the opening quarter.
The U.S. extended it’s lead to 16-0 when Germany’s punter Steffen Doelger mishandled a snap in the end zone and was tackled for a safety by Rodriguez and Calbert. But Germany’s defense stiffened and the score remained 16-0 until late in the second quarter when, following Rodriguez’s first punt block of the day, defensive back Mathias Weil intercepted a Jeff Ballard pass and returned it 94 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 16-7 at halftime.
After stopping Team USA on its first two drives of the second half the momentum seemed to swing Germany’s way until Rodriguez swooped in and blocked his second punt of the day. The block led to a 21-yard Craig Coffin field goal to extend the lead to 19-7 late in the third quarter.
"From looking at film we saw that we could get it off the edge," Rodriguez said. "Diezeas (Calbert) told me he was going to try and distract the upback and that gave me a clean shot. We left the door open for Germany and we needed somebody to step up and make play and I was able to do that."
Germany reached mid-field on its next drive but Josh Kubiak stepped in front of a Joachim Ullrich pass and returned it out to the U.S. 43 yard line early in the fourth quarter. Austin then led Team USA on a six-play, 57-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard Doug Blakowski touchdown run to extend the lead to 26-7 with 7:40 to go in the game.
Any hope of a Germany comeback was ended on the next possession when Diezeas Calbert picked off another errant Ullrich throw and sprinted 58 yards for the game’s final touchdown.
Team USA Head Coach John Mackovic praised the work of his defense and special teams after the game.
"Once again our special team bailed us out and put us in a position to win the game," Mackovic said. "Germany did a very good job in the first half of playing their game and we contributed to our setbacks by throwing three interceptions."
Sunday’s championship game will kick off at 3 p.m. Japan Time, 2 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
GAME CAPTAINS: Defensive back Jason Hoffschneider of North Dakota and offensive lineman Alex Atkins of Tennessee-Martin served as game captains for today’s game. Hoffschneider is playing this summer for the Hamburg Blue Devils in the German Football League and will be returning to Germany following the tournament.
RECORD BOOK: Southern Illinois placekicker Craig Coffin has already set a new tournament PAT record with one game yet to play. Coffin has converted on all 15 extra points so far to surpass the previous record of 12 set in 1999.