VICENZA, Italy -- Well, that escalated quickly.
Rumors of a transfer of DODDS-Europe football power in Italy were confirmed Saturday night as resurgent Vicenza bounded out of the cellar to slap 2012 Division II runner-up Naples with a stinging 34-6 defeat.
The Cougars carried the indicators of a rising program into 2013, while the perennially tough Wildcats looked to be a tamer version of the squad that nearly knocked off reigning dynasty Bitburg in last season's European title game. Still, the magnitude of Saturday's sea change was stunning.
With the victory, Vicenza matched its win total from a last-place 2012 season. Naples, meanwhile, didn't lose last year until the European final and won all of its regular-season games by at least two touchdowns, including a 39-0 rout of Vicenza.
With that kind of motivation, the hungry Cougars couldn't wait to tear into a Wildcat team weakened by the loss of all but four 2012 starters. The score was 20-0 and the result all but assured by halftime.
Five Vicenza players accounted for one apiece of the team's touchdowns. Mario Molina, Ethan Fullmer, Derrick Grice and Malcolm Harris each scored via run, while Jerome Farmer returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown.
The Cougars were equally frisky on the other side of the ball. Bryce Fisher and Fullmer collected a team-high six tackles each, while Harris added five. The defensive effort begat more offensive opportunities as Vicenza recovered four Wildcat fumbles.
Both teams are off next week. First-year Vicenza head coach Kurt York leads his rejuvenated charges into Aviano on Sept. 20 in an attempt to run the Italian table. Naples hosts Schweinfurt/Bamberg on Sept. 21.