Tied 7-7, the USA exploded for four touchdowns in just 5:59 of gameplay to take a 35-7 advantage into halftime. And the Americans never looked back, cruising to an easy victory and a date with Canada in the Gold Medal game Saturday.
Austria came out firing early, attempting an onside kick that was snagged by TCU commitment Sammy Douglas. Just four plays later, Tarean Folston ran in from 25 yards out for the first USA score. But as American Samoa was able to at times, the Austrians found a few holes with the running game, tying the score on a one-yard dive by Felix Stadler.
That scoreline held until Team USA put together its scoring string midway through the second quarter. First, Brayden Scott snuck in from a yard out. On Austria's next drive, wide receiver Philipp Kern threw a pass off a jet sweep that was intercepted by USA safety Darius Mosely, who returned it 28 yards to the Austria 45. Conor Hundley broke off a 40-yard run, and Scott threw to Folston for a five-yard score.
The USA wasn't finished. Dashon Hunt intercepted a more conventional pass from Christoph Gubisch, and the USA was in business at the Austria 21. Scott threw for another touchdown, this one to Florida commitment Rodney Adams, for a 19-yard touchdown and a 28-7 advantage.
And one more turnover gave USA its halftime margin. Gubisch was sacked by South Carolina commitment Kight Dallas, and Blinn Community College signee Lance Duran — a local from Austin Westlake — scooped up the fumble and returned it to the five. Lorenzo Woodley found the end zone, making the score 35-7. The scoring burst started with 6:57 left in the second quarter, and ended four scores later with 58 seconds left.
Scott threw for one more touchdown to Adams, this one a 39-yarder, just after the break, earning new quarterback Cameron Birse some time. Birse wasted no time in scoring himself, when his pass was tipped and wound up in the hands of former Round Rock Westwood standout Desmond Wyatt.
With all of the forced turnovers, it was only a matter of time before the defense got on the board, and Arkansas commitment Khari Harding did just that, picking off a Gubisch pass and running it back for an 18-yard touchdown and a 56-7 lead. That lead quickly swelled with a 47-yard touchdown run from Woodley and a 19-yard score from Birse to Adams, for Adams's third score of the game.
Scott, who only played one series in the second half, completed 10-of-17 passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for another score. He was Team USA's MVP. But it could have been any one of several players. Team USA rushed for 231 yards on 28 carries, with Woodley and Folston combining for 167 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns. Adams finished with four catches for 77 yards and three touchdowns. And a number of players defensively either chipped in a turnover or multiple big plays — Eric Beisel made 3.0 of his 5.5 stops in the backfield.
Now, the USA will take on a Canada team that survived a hard-fought 33-24 victory over Japan in the first semifinal. Game time is set for 8 p.m. Central.