Aviano shocks Naples, avoids winless football season
Stars and Stripes
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – The Aviano Saints landed another blow against Italy’s former football juggernaut Saturday with a stunning 24-18 overtime win over visiting Naples.
Nathan Sevigny forced extra time with a tying field goal as regulation expired, and Mike Trujillo completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Perran to deliver Aviano’s euphoric victory over last year’s Division II runner-up.
Though it took late heroics to finish off, the Saints got their upset bid rolling early when Jamal Thomas ran the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Thomas scored again minutes later on a touchdown reception from Trujillo.
Naples scored twice in rapid succession after halftime to trim the deficit to 15-12.
Wildcat quarterback Ty’Rick Riggins squeezed into the end zone from short yardage to put Naples up 18-15 in the game’s final minute. But Sevigny’s kick kept the Saints alive.
Both teams missed field goal attempts in the first overtime period.
The win was Aviano’s first of the season on its last opportunity. It’s not enough to alter the locked-in Division II South playoff picture, however, as 2-3 Naples will claim the region’s fourth and final spot ahead of one-win Aviano and Schweinfurt-Bamberg. The Wildcats’ reward is a trip to four-time defending Division II champion and undefeated North top seed Bitburg.
Trujillo starred on both sides of the ball for Aviano, completing 9 of 11 passes for 213 yards and leading the Saints defense with eight tackles. Perran had his own iron-man stat line with five receptions for 149 yards along with five tackles and an interception.
English rushed for 64 yards and touchdown to lead Naples; Zane Zimmerman led the Wildcat defense with five tackles.