Molina-fueled Vicenza runs past ISB
By KENT HARRIS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: September 19, 2014
VICENZA, Italy – Entering Friday’s game, the Vicenza Cougars and International School of Brussels had one common foe: the Aviano Saints.
ISB lost to Aviano 39-0 to open the season. Vicenza defeated the Saints 35-0 the next week.
So Friday’s matchup didn’t look too favorable for the Raiders. Yet Vicenza led only 8-0 at the half.
“Concerned? No,” Vicenza coach Kurt York said of his thoughts at the half. “Angry? Yes.”
He was in a different mood after his team’s 35-0 victory that helped the Cougars improve to 2-0 on the season, a couple of steps along their goal of making a second-straight playoff appearance.
ISB, also a playoff team a year ago, doesn’t look like it’ll be playing in November. But with a few breaks in the first half, the Raiders might still be in the hunt.
“We thought we had recovered an onside kick, but the officials ruled otherwise,” Coach Wil Vreugdenhil said of the game’s opening play.
Vicenza quarterback Mario Molina then went to work on a short field. And he quickly made it even shorter, scampering for 29 yards on a fourth-and-one play. He connected with Peter Toves for a 4-yard touchdown seconds later and caught a conversion pass from Adrian Guerrero to give Vicenza an 8-0 lead.
“We played them to a stalemate after that and the kids should get credit for that,” Vreugendenhil said.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, there was another half to play. A successful Vicenza onside kick and two ISB fumbles limited the Raiders to only six offensive plays in the third quarter. And though ISB occasionally threw Molina for a loss, it couldn’t stop him. He did far more damage with his feet than his arm, running for 228 yards and two touchdowns and throwing for 110 more and two short touchdown passes .
It could have been worse. He had two more long runs called back due to penalties, a category that Vicenza also dominated. Ten Cougar penalties had York wincing after the game.
“I think the delay and the weather must have had us off our game,” he said, referring to a torrential downpour a half hour before the game’s scheduled start that forced a late start and less-than-ideal playing conditions.
It didn’t seem to matter much to Molina, though, who has thrown six touchdown passes and rushed for four more through two games.
York said he has enough confidence in his senior captain to allow him the option to run, hand off or pass on almost every play.
“Most every play we have is an option,” he said.
The most successful by far was having Molina keep the ball. He had nine runs longer than 10 yards, getting the Cougars out of dire situations several times.
Wayne White sealed the victory with a 43-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
ISB, which hosts Alconbury on Saturday, had only 43 yards of offense in the second half.
“Our defense was out there the whole half and they did a great job,” Vreugendenhil said.
Vicenza faces three more teams from last year’s playoffs over the next three weeks, starting Saturday at SHAPE.