Team USA Notes

Cameron Walker shut the door on a building American Samoa offense and Demarcus Ayers channeled his inner Air Raid as the Team USA team defeated American Samoa 27-6 in the opening game of the IFAF U-19 World Championships in Austin, Texas. Here are some news and notes from that victory.

*Notre Dame commitment Rashad Kinlaw received an ankle injury after a catch-and-run, and by the appearance of things, won't be re-joining the team.


* After Trent Hosick left, Kinlaw also served as the team's No. 2 quarterback. But that position has been filled by Cameron Birse, a late addition from San Ramon Valley (Calif.). Birse backed up 2012 Cal signee Zach Kline, one of the West Coast's top quarterbacks. Birse's first practice will be on Sunday.


* Florida State commit Jesus Wilson got the game started with a 75-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff. Wilson showed off his loose hips and electric speed on the run-back, putting Team USA up 6-0 early.


* After forcing a punt — though American Samoa drove it inside the USA 40 — Team USA went 80 yards on nine plays. That included the first big play through the air for the USA, with Scott going over the top on a post route to Demarcus Ayers for a 43-yard gain. Ayers slightly overestimated how far the pass was thrown, had to come back for it slightly, and was tackled on the one. Scott dove in two plays later for a 13-0 lead.


* Samoa again drove the ball deep, but this time turned the ball over, with Boston College commit Cory Jasudowich stripping Samoa running back Faafounia Sitagta and Reggie Chevis falling on the ball at the USA 16.


* That led to the third USA score, with Scott hitting Ayers for a seven-yard touchdown pass.


* But after that point, the Americans won the game just 7-6, with some sloppy periods with penalties and some scary moments. Walker had a two-play stretch that may have saved the game. Trailing 20-6 — the Samoans scored on a 66-yard drive with Howard Tautu jumping in from two yards out with 5:45 left in the second quarter — and with the ball, the Samoans had plenty of time to drive down and score just before halftime, with American Samoa set to receive at the start of the second half as well.

Samoa drove the ball inside the USA 40 yet again, but on a third-down, Walker made a leaping tip to break up a potential big pass play. Then, when Samoa called a receiver pass on fourth down, Walker intercepted the pass at the 15 to end the threat.


* The USA defense clamped down the rest of the way, allowing just 93 yards in the second half, and holding the American Samoa passing attack to a 4-for-15 passing performance. And the Samoan option attack, prolific in averaging almost five yards per carry in the first half, was held to nine yards on seven carries in the third quarter.


* The USA offense added the final margin of victory when Tarean Folston ran in from one-yard-out with 4:38 left.


* Ayers had seven catches for 115 yards and a touchdown in receiving MVP honors for the USA team. After the game, he said he was trying to look like a typical Mike Leach Air Raid receiver. Ayers is committed to play for Leach at Washington State.


* Scott completed 13-of-20 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, while running for another. Team USA's top rusher was Folston, who rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Folston also had a 16-yard catch.


* American Samoa's strength was in its rushing attack. While no one player was dominant — only one player with five-or-more carries averaged four or more yards per carry — Samoa was prolific in getting a number of people touches in good situations. Out of the eight players to carry the ball for Samoa, all had a carry of at least four yards, and half had a carry of 10 or more yards. As a team, American Samoa rushed for 165 yards on 42 carries, just under four yards per carry.


* Reggie Chevis finished with a team-leading 5.5 tackles (assisted tackles are counted as one-half tackle), and had a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery. Dajaun Drennon might have been the best overall defender. While he wasn't credited with any hurries, he was in the quarterback's face all night, and was a big part of the reason the Samoa passing attack stalled. He also had 2.5 tackles and a tackle for loss.


* Team USA attempted to get the ball to talented tight end Durham Smythe on several bootlegs, but Samoa blitzed the boots to not allow Scott to roll out. Smythe finished with one catch for eight yards.


* Team USA will move on to play Austria at 8 p.m. (Cen.) on Wednesday. The winner will move on to the gold medal game on Saturday. Austria was a big winner over Panama in its first-round game.


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