Austria triumphed 48-10 over a misfiring Australia to claim seventh place at the 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship at Ernst Happel Stadium in Vienna.
Running back Mario Nerad tied a tournament record by scoring three touchdowns in a single game, while quarterback Thomas Haider completed 12 of 18 passes for 184 yards in an MVP performance as Austria delighted the home crowd with their first win.
“It is your goal to win every time out and I thought we played much better today,” said Austria head coach Rick Rhoades. “It was gratifying to see that and you always want to finish on a high note. It was good to win.
“We were able to do many more things offensively well than earlier in the tournament. Our quarterback had a great game. He gave us a tremendous lift. It is nothing negative towards anyone else. When he got an opportunity he took it, like champions do. He did a great job for us.”
Australia head coach John Leijten added: “Today, unfortunately we were not able to hang with Austria. All the credit goes to them; they are a strong football team.
“There are a lot of positives. The level of local competition here in Europe is so much higher than in Australia. It takes a long time to adjust to the speed of the players that come from the U.S. and Mexico and we played against the top European teams as well. It is a huge learning curve for our guys. This was the first step in the plan to raise the level of football in Australia.”
A short opening kickoff gave Australia good starting field position and the Outback offense gradually edged into Austrian territory before Luke Fredericks moved the chains on third down at the Austrian 26. Kiernan Dorney overthrew Locklan Gilbert in the corner endzone and then hit receiver Ryan Dwyer who stayed on his feet when tackled to force extra yards and move to the host’s 13-yard mark. But Dorney was intercepted in the end zone by Alexander Cucek as a scoring chance went begging.
Two Stefan Holzinger runs either side of a Haider scramble earned three consecutive first downs and swept the Austrians downfield and Haider, staring in place of Christoph Gross, then hit Daniel Stanzel completely open at the edge of the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown.
The Aussie offense was misfiring and Dorney threw the ball up for grabs and Johannes Neusser intercepted, putting the home offense back on the field.
On first play in reply Haider was almost picked when going long towards Jakob Dieplinger before Florian Grein charged up middle behind great blocks for 22 yards.
A Haider pass into the end zone to open the second quarter drew a pass interference call moving the ball to the three-yard mark and a Dieplinger catch at the one led to Nerad making it 14-0 on the ground from three yards away.
Austria soon had the ball back again and opened up a 21-point advantage. Haider scrambled for 22 yards and a diving Andreas Proeller juggled and held a one-handed grab to move the ball down to the three-yard mark. Heider handed off to Grein who lofted a pass to Dieplinger in the corner of the end zone.
Armando Ponce de Leon fumbled when fair-catching an Australian punt and the Outback special teams recovered inside the red zone to resume a drive that had stalled offensively. A pass to Ryan Dwyer came up just short of a first down and Australia settled for a 28-yard Nathan Brown field goal to put points on the board.
Austria again dialed up the pass by a running back after a handoff, but this time Holzinger was picked off by Chris Pearce, though Australia were unable to capitalize and missed a 50-yard field goal attempt.
A screen pass to Nerad moved Austria instantly to the Australian 34 and then Heider carried the ball himself into the red zone. Ponce de Leon came up with a diving catch a yard from paydirt with 16 seconds on the clock and Nerad then went in untouched for a touchdown from a yard out.
A big Australia sack drove Austria all the way back to their own 19-yard mark and third and 20 on the opening possession of the second half and forced them to punt.
Australia went to work with a hurry-up offense that paid dividends. Tyson Garnham made a huge gain through a gaping hole up the middle to the 24, a short pass dumped off to Matt Croasdaile ate up nine more yards and Dorney hit Lewis Wyten to bring up first and goal at the nine-yard mark.
Again from the no-huddle, a hole opened up for a Dorney rush to within a yard of scoring and then Nathan Lansdell broke the plain on the second effort, cutting the deficit to 18 points.
Austria quarterback Haider continued his stellar performance that earned team MVP honors, breaking through the defense to Australia's own 9. Again Haider ran the ball himself and came up just short of the endzone at the one-yard line. Running back Nerad claimed his third rushing touchdown of the game, equaling the tournament record, and Austria led 34-10 with 2:49 left in the third quarter.
“When Thomas got his shot in the last game, he came in and made some great throws and leadership and did a good job,” said coach Rhoades of his quarterback. “In my mind, he earned the right to start the game and see what he could do.”
Fellow back Florian Hiess took a handoff for a two-yard score and a 41-10 lead with 11:15 remaining then to compound Australia’s misery, Daniel Aubock returned an interception the short distance of 14 yards for another touchdown.
Austria vs. Australia 48:10
Date: July 15, 2011
Stadium: Ernst Happel Stadium
Link: Game Statistics