Aviano tops Naples to earn semifinal host rights
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- The Aviano Saints completed their worst-to-first football transformation Saturday, earning a 21-14 comeback win over the Naples Wildcats to complete an undefeated regular season and clinch the DODEA-Europe Division II South regional title.
Aviano, the only winless team in Division II last season, will host Rota in a semifinal next weekend for the right to advance to the Nov. 4 European championship game. The Saints topped the Admirals 33-30 in a game at Aviano on Oct. 14.
Naples, also undefeated in regional play entering Saturday’s regular-season finale, held a 14-0 lead at halftime. But the Saints scored twice in the third quarter, pulled ahead in the fourth and shut the Wildcats down to earn the victory.
Donavin Robinson scored two touchdowns and Anthony Cervantes added another score in the Saints rally.
Aviano coach Rick Dahlstrom identified Brandon Heisig, Matt Robertson, Tony Perales and Luke Farrington as leaders of the Saints’ second-half defensive efforts.
Joseph Crews scored on a 15-yard run and Jackson Blivin tossed an 11-yard touchdown to TJ Haynes to fuel Naples’ hot start. John Freiermuth led the Naples defense with 12 tackles and a sack.
The Wildcats will travel to face undefeated North champion Spangdahlem for a semifinal next weekend.