Augustana College defeated the French national team 20-13 in front of 7,000 eager American football fans at the Stadium Lille Métropole in Villeneuve d’Ascq on Saturday as freshman Sam Frasco rushed for three touchdowns.
The Vikings faced a French side team comprised of the best adult players from across the country who play in the country’s strong and developing amateur league, as part of a week-long cultural visit to France. The hosts mounted a late comeback, but were unable to tie the game.
For Augustana Head Coach Rob Cushman the game provided an ideal warm up ahead of the 2013 season and for France, under head coach Larry Legault, the opportunity to face an American college team is a key element of their preparations for the 2014 European Championships.
The speed of Augustana’s offense caused France problems early on and on the third play of the game, Frasco broke free and raced 59 yards for the game’s opening touchdown. The extra point attempt failed.
France immediately gained a first down in reply, before a sack forced them to punt and the Vikings then went three and out.
Freshman linebacker Dylan Smith got the ball back on an interception and Augustana drove 61 yards downfield on a scoring drive capped by a 5-yard run again by Frasco. The extra point by Jeremy Lensing split the uprights, earning the visitors a 13-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The teams traded interceptions with Justin Gruca coming up with the turnover for Augustana, but there was no second quarter scoring and the Vikings led 13-0 at the interval.
The French defense stopped Augustana on downs inside the red zone to halt a promising third quarter drive that had seen Frasco and Kyle Frake combine for a 55-yard pass completion.
The home team’s persistence paid off as the Augustana lead was cut to six points by a passing touchdown to Stephan Yepmo to cap a 70-yard drive kept alive by a series of short pass plays and power runs.
Frasco scored his third rushing touchdown of the afternoon, this time from 10 yards out and Lensing tagged on the extra point for Augustana to lead 20-13 at the start of the final quarter.
But France pulled to within six points with five minutes remaining with a touchdown pass to Marcais Brice, setting up a tense finish to the contest.
In 2011, France finished sixth at the 2011 IFAF World Championship of American Football held in Vienna, losing narrowly to Germany in the fifth placed game. France defeated host Austria and was placed in a strong group, losing to Canada and Japan.