Canada Settles For Silver At The NFL GJCVIII
After 31-0 Loss To Team USA In The Final

Saturday, January 31, 2004

HOUSTON, Texas. -- Team Canada lost the NFL Global Junior Championship VIII final 31-0 to the United States at Houston's Tully Stadium. It's the 4th time in four years that Canada has settled for the Silver medal at the hands of team USA. Last year Canada lost the final 28-21 in overtime, in 2002 the score was 16-14 and 19-21 in 2001.

Team Canada ends the tournament with a record of 4 wins and 1 loss. Canada's 7-3 win over USA in the First Round was the team's first win against Team USA since the NFL GJCIV semi-final in Atlanta (2000). Team Canada 2004 had qualified for the NFL Global Junior Championship VIII final by winning its four First Round games (14 minutes games) last Wednesday at Houston's Tully Stadium. Canada beat Japan 10-2, USA 7-3, Mexico 14-0 and Russia 27-0.

Earlier, Mexico captured the Bronze Medal by beating Russia 28-0 and Japan 34-0. Japan who beat Russia 17-0 finishes in fourth place while Russia who didn't record a win in the tournament (0 and 6 record) finishes in fifth place.

Game recap:

Sammy Okpro #2 produced a 25-yard opening kickoff return to start Canada's challenge from its own 35-yard line and inspired an immediate first down pass from quarterback Dante Luciani #15 to tight end Francis Claude #89. Canada was then forced to punt and pinned USA down on their own 11-yard line.

The home crowd was fired into life when USA QB Brian Johnson tossed a short pass to receiver Nunn, who broke down the right sideline for a 64-yard gain to Canada's 32-yard mark. RB Brendan Jackson then found a way around the right end to rush for a touchdown and open an early 7-0 lead.

Sammy Okpro
Vanier Cheetah

Canada's defence came up big on USA's second drive. Tight end Huston Mgbemena made enough yardage for a first down up the middle, but was leveled by a fierce hit by Devin MacLeod #21. The ball popped loose and Sammy Opkro #2 recovered to give Canada possession in USA territory.

Team USA defence held, and when Canada attempted a 42-yard field goal, Christopher Milo's #85 kick was long enough, but flew wide left.

Both sides were forced to punt away their next possession, Canada's kick landing at the USA four-yard mark as the first quarter expired. Having relied on the big play early in he game, USA drove steadily out of danger, then Nunn picked up a 12-yard catch and Brandon Roberson went on a mazy 24-yard run to Canada's 35.

Johnson was then sacked for a nine-yard loss on third down. That took USA out of field goal range, but USA gambled and on fourth down Johnson hit a sprinting Nunn for a 34-yard touchdown. Jason Bonzdio's second extra point made it 14-0 on the end of a 12-play, 96-yard scoring drive.

Canada looked to be driving downfield towards pay dirt in the third quarter when Benoit Groulx #12 hit a sprinting Matthew Black #11 for 31 yards, but the receiver fumbled and USA recovered at its own 34-yard line.

The third USA touchdown was scored by RB Jackson on a four yard run that was set up by a 31-yard run.

The USA added a 33-yard Bondzio field goal in the fourth quarter after Micheal Parker intercepted a Benoit Groulx #12 pass.

USA closed the scoring when RB Jackson ran in from 19 yards out for the TD following a fumble recovery deep in Canada's territory.

NFL GJCVIII Standings Gold USA
Silver Canada
Bronze Mexico
Fourth place Japan
Fifth place Russia

The NFL Global Junior Championship VIII is an international tournament and an official Super Bowl XXXVIII that was held in Houston, from 28 to 31 January 2004. Team Canada competed against national teams from Japan, Mexico, Russia and United States. The team played under the National Football Federation of Canada (NFFC) banner. Team Canada won the Gold in 2000 and the Silver in 2001, 2002 and 2003.