12.04.2012 Grenoble Centaures
Grenoble Centaures vs Valencia Firebats
The Firebats were overwhelmed by a great first half of the French team which also had as an ally the heavy rain that start falling after the 1st quarter in the Alpine town, making it difficult for pass offenses. Especially the Valencia quarterback Sean Hakes, intercepted in the first half three times by Paul Braisaz-Latille, real protagonist of the game with both defensive and offensive actions and author of 3 touchdowns (2 offensives and 1 defensive).
The game started with a kickoff of the Valencians for a touchback, then with the French attack at their own 20, Caruso # 1 hit a first strike to Braisaz-Latille # 9, who ran the 70 yards that separated him from the end zone, opening the score. The extra point was converted by Philippe Erbs # 36 to increase the score to 7-0.
Firebats began their opening drive by getting two first downs but the difficulties in gaining yards between the weather and athletic French defense forced them to give back the ball on a punt.
With two long shots on the Canadian Louis Lafreniere-Dupont # 23, Centaures quickly crossed the field and stood at the Valencia 14-yard line. Caruso #1 connected with another pass to Bobby Mikelberg #7, the other Canadian and put the cash 13-0 whereas it was remaining 7 minutes in the first quarter. Philippe Erbs gave 14-00 with the EP.
Valencia got some trouble getting into this game and the proof was the first interception of Braisaz-Latille on the next play from scrimmage. But with just 10 yards from the touchdown the Spanish defense stopped the Gauls recovered the ball at the 1, but again the Valencia Offense was unable to leave their red zone and was forced to punt. End of the first quarter.
In the second quarter the Mexican Sergio Cantu # 12 intercepted a long pass from the French quaterback, but the hosts responded with a new Braisaz interception. The defense again did his job and got the ball back at their own 2.
With an ineffective offense, Valencia was about to punt away, but a bad snap came to cause a safety, giving two points to the French team, which meant 16-00.
After a couple of poor drives for both teams, in the last play of the half Hakes was intercepted again by Braisaz-Latille who returned it 30 yards to the end zone and scored 6 points on the scoreboard. Philippe Erbs was there for the PAT to end the first half with a23-00 on the scoreboard.
The second half started with a long Spanish drive (extended by a fake punt), and after going through the entire field with Sergio Gonzalez # 13 running and catches of Gonzalo Carbajos # 82 and # 12 Sergio Cantu, Valencia stood at the Centaures 7 yard line.
When it seemed that the first points were coming for Valencia, the home defense stopped 3 consecutive runs and a 4th down pass attempt to prevent the Firebats to score and keep their points to zero.
From that time, Centaures began to manage the time with several run attempts as the weather conditions were degrading (heavy rain). The team exchanged punt to end the 3rd quarter.
The 4th quarter started with an explosive play from Louis Lafreniere-Dupont # 23 who run the ball for 58 yards, taking the ball from its own red zone to Firebats red zone.
The power play continue on the Grenoble drive and after several runs the last touchdown of the game came after a 9-yard run by Canadian Bobby Mikelberg # 7 as a quarterback. Philippe Erbs put the extra point that certified the first European victory of Grenoble and a tough loss for Firebats on the 30-00 score.
The match has been played in the Stade Lesdiguières in Grenoble in front of around 2 000 spectators. The spirit between the two teams was great and the officiating was also very good.