They came out in their thousands to stadiums usually reserved for Gaelic football, hurling and rugby and rocked Ireland. Local Irish fans curious to discover American football, the traveling devotees of high school teams from the United States and Canada poured into Pairc Tailteann in Navan and Parnell Park and Donnybrook Stadium in Dublin for the spectacular Dublin Friday Night Lights Global Ireland Football Tournament.
John Carroll University (Ohio) breezed past St Norbert College (Wisconsin) 40-3 in the first NCAA D-III college football regular season game played overseas since 1992 as U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Dan Rooney was among 4,000 fans packed into Donnybrook Stadium, the traditional home of Leinster rugby in Dublin.
Notre Dame High School (California) surprised Arizona powerhouse Hamilton High School with a 27-15 win at Parnell Park on Dublin’s northside, while up in Navan, County Meath, Notre Dame Prep (Arizona) prevailed 20-6 over Father Judge (Pennsylvania).
“This was an incredible evening and a wonderful celebration of American football,” said Global Football President and GIFT organizer Patrick Steenberge. “We had enthusiastic crowds, Donnybrook Stadium was rocking, the people of Navan embraced everything we did in their town and the traveling bands and cheerleaders illuminated Parnell Park. We could not have asked for more from our visit to Ireland.”
John Carroll University 40 St Norbert College 3
Donnybrook Stadium, Dublin
John Carroll University erased a 3-0 deficit with a 27-point second quarter and went on to defeat St. Norbert College 40-3 in the Global Ireland Football Tournament in front of a raucous crowd of 4,877 at Donnybrook Stadium. U.S. Ambassador to Ireland and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney was in attendance.
John Carroll quarterback Mark Myers, a transfer from the University of Pittsburgh, set a school record with 457 passing yards in his first appearance with the Blue Streaks. Myers completed 30 of 43 passes with five touchdowns and one interception.
St. Norbert (0-1) held a 3-0 lead after the first quarter, following Randy Hill’s 39-yard field goal with 5 minutes 13 seconds left in the period.
John Carroll (1-0) answered with a 14-play 97-yard drive to pull ahead 6-0 on DaQuan Grobsmith’s 1-yard run. Myers hit Randy Greenwood on a swing pass out of the backfield, and Greenwood broke free for a 73-yard touchdown for a 13-3 lead with 6:35 left before halftime.
The Blue Streaks struck a huge blow in deciding the outcome with two touchdowns in the last 1:27 of the first half. Myers twice found Lane Robilotto on 20-yard touchdown passes, the last one coming with 15 seconds left before intermission after St. Norbert bobbled a punt snap and gave the ball up on downs.
John Carroll closed out the scoring with Myers finding Alex Kline twice, on a 27-yard touchdown pass with 21 seconds left in the third quarter and again on a 57-yard aerial with 12:29 remaining in the game.
St. Norbert couldn’t muster much offense, getting just 90 yards of total offense on 59 plays. Austin Williams rushed 14 times for a team-high 43 yards. James Tringali made his first collegiate start for the Green Knights, completing 12 of 25 passes for 48 yards and one interception.
John Carroll had 513 yards of total offense, with 483 coming through the air. Robilotto caught nine passes for 116 yards, while Kline added eight receptions for 143 yards.
Notre Dame Prep 20 Father Judge 6
Pairc Tailteann, Navan’
Notre Dame honored the memory of their former head coach Scot Bemis who passed away from cancer in January by opening their regular season with a convincing victory over Philadelphia’s Fr Judge High School at Pairc Tailteann, Navan this evening.
Running Back / Line Backer Luke Taffuri was the star of the show for Saints as he ran in two touchdowns, made five tackles and was the inspiration behind the victory.
After driving so close in one of their early series of plays Notre Dame went for it on fourth down and threw 25 yards to move to first and goal after just four minutes.In the first play of the series Taffuri found a gap and ploughed through for the opening touchdown. Sean O’Brien’s point after try was blocked, but Notre Dame still burst into a 6-0 lead.
After a series of three and outs Notre Dame quarterback Nick Duckworth fumbled when sacked by Father Judge’s Kyle Douglas, and that turned over possession to the Philly school on the Notre Dame 33 yard line.On fourth and one, Conor Foley kicked the 29-yard field goal attempt to close the gap to 3-6 with 1.11 left on the clock in the opening quarter and with no more scores in the opening 12 minutes, Fr Judge took a 6-3 lead into the second quarter.
After taking three series of first downs to move to 52 yard line, Samir Bullock broke for a 25 yard burst to move Father Judge to the 22-yard line and after a face mask penalty, Judge moved to first and goal with eight minutes remaining in the half.
However, Father Judge failed to take advantage of the drive that saw them move from their own 15 yard line to first and goal as the went to field goal and Foley’s effort sailed wide.Both sides traded interceptions with Jordan Sclueter’s proving decisive as a big 39 yard catch by Grant Martinez was followed by a big carry by Sclueter to move play to a first down on the 26 yard line.
Patience was the name of the game from Notre Dame as they benefitted from a couple of penalty calls including a face mask call and a pass interference judgement. A massive pass to Bailey Jones brought play to first and goal where the outstanding Taffuri ran in for his second touchdown and O’Brien added the extra point to hand Notre Dame a 13-3 lead at the break.
Three minutes in the second half Taffuri showed his electric pace and a clean pair of heals to break from his own 40 yard line and set up first and goal on the six yard line for Notre Dame.
In the red zone Notre Dame again punished Fr Judge with Duckworth finding Martinez uncovered in the endzone. O’Brien added the PAT as Notre dame stretched their lead to 20-3.On the next play Fr Judge went on the offensive with Ryan Mackiewicz picking out Max Pascavitch with a 45 yard pass. Pascavitch was collared late and from the penalty Fr Judge set up on the 12-yard line to try for their first touchdown.
However that was as far as they got as Taffuri picked off a brilliant interception on the one-yard line to turn the ball back over in Notre Dame’s favour and effectively break the spirit of Fr Judge High school. Father Judge had to settle for a Foley field goal to close the gap to 6-20 with 8.22 remaining.
Notre Dame High School 27 Hamilton High School 15
Parnell Park, Dublin
Notre Dame High School from Sherman Oaks, CA, capitalized on four turnovers as its ruthless offense took advantage of field position earned by a dominating defense and cruised to a 27-15 win over Arizona powerhouse Hamilton.
Having opened its regular season last week with a loss, Hamilton suffered consecutive defeats in a season for the first time in school history. Hamilton struck first when quarterback AJ Thigpen breached the end zone from three yards out on the Huskies’ opening drive. But the 7-0 lead was wiped away after a sustained Notre Dame drive that led to Kelly Hilinski threading a 20-yard pass to Kyle Barrett for the equalizing touchdown with 27 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Notre Dame’s Max Leon came up with an interception and was stopped only yards short of the end zone after a long return, paving the way for a 36-yard field goal by Lucas Alfonso, although the Knights would have led by more than three had a pass to a wide open Michael Little in the end zone not been ruled out for an infraction. The Notre Dame defense forced a fumble on the next Hamilton drive in reply and after Hilinski was sacked, three more points looked out of range until Daniel Khan stepped up to split the uprights from 45 yards.
The lead grew to 13 points by halftime as a third turnover, this time 35 yards from paydirt, allowed a grateful Saints offense to drive and Chris Colarossi punched his way through the middle for a 20-7 advantage.
Sam Sasso came out under center for Hamilton after the break and began to move the ball steadily, but made a poor decision to pass and the impressive Nick Holland came up with an interception and won the foot race with Sasso for a 60-yard scoring return. At 27-7 the outcome rarely looked in doubt, although Hamilton did dent the deficit as Thigpen hit Israel Simpson from four yards out at the end of the third quarter and Kevin Walters’ run was successful for two more points.