Game recap: American Samoa 51, Panama 0

By Todd Bell

American Samoa rushed for an IFAF Under-19 World Championship record 432 yards and limited Panama to a record minus-46 yards on the ground to roll to a 51-0 consolation round victory Tuesday night at Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas.

American Samoa finished with 606 yards in total offense, the second-highest total in tournament history, and limited Panama to 8 yards of offense, the second-lowest total in tournament history.

Bruce Scanlan rushed for 121 yards on six carries and two scores to lead a Samoa ground attack that found the end zone six times on the night. Quarterback Ben Langford threw for 159 yards and a touchdown.

“This took focus and working through the team,” Scanlan said. “After our recent loss it’s all been about teamwork and sticking together.

“This win means a lot to us. Most of us were feeling down so it motivated the team to perform better and tonight we showed our talent.”

Click here for the box score

After forcing a Panama punt on its first series, Scanlan opened the scoring with a 53-yard touchdown run on the Samoan’s first play from scrimmage, taking a pitch on a counter play from Langford and streaking untouched down the left sideline.

Kicking from its own 45 because of a Panama personal foul on the scoring run, American Samoa squibbed the kickoff and recovered the ball at the Panama 41. Four plays later, Scanlan found the end zone again, this time from 8 yards out, and American Samoa led, 14-0, with 8:05 to go in the first quarter.

American Samoa upped its lead to 20-0 on a 16-yard touchdown run by Langford and a failed 2-point conversion attempt early in the second quarter.

Leading 20-0 midway through the second quarter, punter Shalom Luani ran 36 yards on a fake punt to put American Samoa at the Panama 21, but Joel Doiny ended the threat with an interception in the end zone two plays later.

On first down on the ensuing series, Panama quarterback Ernesto Calvo found Adrian Flores for a 36-yard gain into American Samoa territory. A personal foul on the Samoans put the ball at the 29-yard line, but the Panamanian offense stalled and American Samoa took over on downs.

Langford then moved the Samoans 71 yards in eight plays to up the lead to 26-0 on a 7-yard touchdown run by Ietiaia Manu and end the first half scoring.

American Samoa wasted little time getting on the board in the second half with Manu capping a five-play, 94-yard drive with a 36-yard touchdown run for a 33-0 lead.

The lead moved to 40-0 with 2:01 to go in the third quarter when Langford connected for this first scoring pass of the night with wide receiver Jamie Tago.

American Samoa continued to grind out yards on the ground, passing the 400-yard rushing mark early in the fourth quarter and extending the lead to 48-0 on a 7-yard touchdown run by back-up quarterback Fagalilo Oa and a two-point conversion tally by Tago.

Luani tacked on a 23-yard field goal with 1:46 to go for the final margin.

Still, American Samoa head coach Pooch Suaese thinks his team has more to give.

“We haven’t played our best yet, from Saturday to today,” Suaese said. “It’s great that we have one more game against France. … W’ve got to play our best game against France for the final game to get us home.”

Scanlan earned MVP honors for American Samoa while linebacker Alejandro Boyd earned MVP honors for Panama with 13 tackles.

“It was a tough game. They hit very hard. They are a great team,” Scanlan said. “(This tournament is) an honor for me to represent my country. It is tough losing but you cannot always win.”

Panama will face Sweden at 5 p.m. Friday in the seventh-place game, followed by American Samoa and France for fifth place.

“We have to elevate our game, be more dedicated to football and get people to support us back home,” Panama head coach Raul  Arosemena said. “It’s been a learning experience all the time. We are going to put our best effort in the next game, and hopefully someday be better.”