U.S. National Team

U.S. Under-19 National Team carries all three phases in International Bowl victory

Alex Brown Sun, 02/09/2014 - 8:54am

On a cold night in North Texas, a group of college-bound athletes came together as a team to represent themselves and their country.

The job was completed with a 43-7 International Bowl victory by U.S. Under-19 National Team over Team Canada, quarterback Chris Durkin (Poland, Ohio/Virginia Tech), stood on the field at the University of Texas-Arlington and reflected on the week he met new people, experienced the pride of playing for his nation and had fun in his last game as a high school senior.

“I felt like we had a good team effort this week in practice, and that showed tonight,” said Durkin, who threw for 51 yards and ran for 50 yards, including a 2-yard rushing touchdown and a 9-yard passing TD to Avery Edwards (Raleigh, N.C./North Carolina). “It was a great experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat, and it’s something I’ll never forget. I met a lot of new people here, and I look forward to keeping those friendships.”

It wasn’t always the prettiest of games, marred by 30 penalties that rung up nearly 300 yards, but Team USA overcame a slow start to score the night’s final 40 points.

A 31-yard field goal by Alex Spence (Florence, S.C./Clemson) put the U.S. on top, 3-0, following its first drive.

After the American defense forced a three-and-out, Canada scored its only points when a botched U.S. handoff leads to a fumble recovery in the end zone.

Down 7-3, Team USA’s defense rose to the challenge until the offense got going.

Then the U.S. defenders kept going, shutting out Canada’s offense for the game and allowing just 154 yards of total offense.

“We wanted to be aggressive as a team with blitzes and stunts,” said Grant Watanabe (San Antonio, Texas/Colorado), a U.S. linebacker who sat out the game because of an injury but cheered on his teammates from the sideline and helped the coaching staff anyway he could.  

The defensive line for Team USA controlled the game from start to finish. Defensive tackle Harrison Phillips (Omaha, Neb./Stanford) anchored the interior and stuffed Canada’s running game to the tune of five tackles, including two for loss.

Enoch Smith, Jr. (Plainfield, Ill./Michigan State) led the U.S. defense with seven tackles, including four for loss and a sack. Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Ohio State), who battled a quad contusion earlier in the week, also had two tackles for loss and a half-sack.

The secondary benefitted from that pressure as Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/Alabama), Vincent Jackson (Tampa, Fla./South Florida) and T.J. Harrell (Tampa, Fla./Michigan State) each had interceptions.

Offensively, the USA team simply focused on getting the ball in the hands of its playmakers. Using jet sweeps, quick screens on the outside and a mixture of read option concepts, seven USA players had more than three rushes.

Running back Justin Jackson (Carroll Stream, Ill./Northwestern) led the way with 70 yards on five carries, locating the sideline on two of his carries with bounce cuts and suddenness to make the multiple defenders miss.

Samaje Perine (Pflugerville, Texas/Oklahoma) ran for two scores, with Jalen McClendon (Charlotte, N.C./N.C. State) running for another.  

The final U.S. touchdown came when Charles Nelson (Ormond Beach, Fla./Oregon) returned a punt 90 yards to the end zone. Nelson dropped an earlier punt catch and bobbled this one but recovered, got some good blocks and took it all the way.

Along with a game-high five catches for 56 yards, Nelson earned U.S. Most Valuable Player honors.

“I was like, ‘I can’t drop this one,’” Nelson said. “After that it was just run and do what I do best.

“Overall, I just wanted to help out the team and bring this win back to the USA.”

All six International Bowl games will be delivered live throughout the United States on ESPN3. The games will be archived at www.youtube.com/usafootballtv for future viewing.

SEE ALSO: A photo gallery from the U-19 game

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Captains for Team USA included cornerback Perine, Nick Ruffin (Duluth, Ga./Auburn), linebacker Greer Martini (Woodberry Forest, Va./Notre Dame) and offensive lineman Dalton Risner (Wiggins, Colo./Kansas State).

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Watanabe on U.S. wide receiver Moral Stephens (Perry, Fla./Florida): “He’s crazy. I thought he was a tight end (because of his size), but then I saw him run.”

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Nelson stood out with elusiveness after the catch and top end speed to outrun pursuit angles. His ability to create yards a ball-carrier, receiver and return specialist should lead to a smooth transition for the Oregon Ducks.

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Safety Charles Grant (Mesquite, Texas/Arkansas State) made a handful of standout plays, including an interception in the first half. A rangy defensive back with ball skills, he’s also an explosive and willing tackler.

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U.S. Under-19 National Team roster:

No.

Name

Pos.

Ht.

Wt.

Hometown

High school

College verbal

1

Jalan McClendon

QB

6-4

198

Charlotte, N.C.

West Mecklenburg H.S.

N.C. State

2

James Mayden

WR

6-2

177

Sachse, Texas

Sachse H.S.

Rice

3

Moral Stephens

WR

6-3

205

Perry, Fla.

Taylor County H.S.

Florida

4

Deionte Thompson

WR

6-2

175

Orange, Texas

West-Orange Stark H.S.

Alabama

5

Tommy Mister

RB

6-0

198

Chicago, Ill.

St. Rita of Cascia H.S.

Indiana

6

Jake Pugh

LB

6-4

236

Tallahassee, Fla.

Amos P. Godby H.S.

Florida State

7

Jay Hayes

DL

6-4

265

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Poly Prep Country Day

Notre Dame

8

Trai Mosley

DB

5-10

175

Pflugerville, Texas

Hendrickson H.S.

Nebraska

9

Nile Sykes

LB

6-1

220

Lombard, Ill.

Montini Catholic H.S.

Notre Dame

10

Saeed Blacknall

WR

6-3

205

Manalapan, N.J.

Manalapan H.S.

Penn State

11

Christian Lezzer

LB

6-1

216

Clearfield, Pa.

Clearfield H.S.

Boston College

12

Tyler Wiegers

QB

6-4

213

Detroit, Mich.

Detroit Country Day School

Iowa

13

Nick Ruffin

DB

6-0

172

Duluth, Ga.

St. Pius X Catholic H.S.

Auburn

15

Vincent Jackson

LB

6-3

245

Tampa, Fla.

Jesuit H.S.

Undecided

16

Chris Durkin

QB

6-4

234

Poland, Ohio

Ursuline H.S.

Virginia Tech

17

Alex Spence

K-P

6-2

190

Florence, S.C.

Florence H.S.

Clemson

18

Blake Mahon

TE

6-6

227

Coppell, Texas

Coppell H.S.

Baylor

19

Avery Edwards

TE

6-5

228

Raleigh, N.C.

Ravenscroft School

North Carolina

20

Tajee Fullwood

DB

6-2

180

Tampa, Fla.

Tampa Bay Technical H.S.

South Florida

21

Justin Jackson

RB

5-11

180

Carroll Stream, Ill.

Glenbard North H.S.

Northwestern

23

T.J. Harrell

DB

6-1

210

Tampa, Fla.

Tampa Catholic H.S.

Michigan State

24

Jonathan Hilliman

RB

6-0

210

Jersey City, N.J.

St. Peter’s Prep

Boston College

27

Charles Grant

DB

5-11

180

Mesquite, Texas

Mesquite H.S.

Arkansas State

28

Charles Nelson

WR

5-9

170

Ormond Beach, Fla.

Seabreeze H.S.

Oregon

31

Alonzo Saxton

DB

5-11

175

Columbus, Ohio

Bishop Hartley H.S.

Duke

32

Samaje Perine

RB

6-0

213

Pflugerville, Texas

Hendrickson H.S.

Oklahoma

34

Micah Thomas

DL

6-2

250

Cedar Park, Texas

Vista Ridge H.S.

Navy

44

Grant Watanabe

LB

5-10

230

San Antonio, Texas

Brennan H.S.

Colorado

47

Greer Martini

LB

6-3

230

Woodberry Forest, Va.

Woodberry Forest School

Notre Dame

52

Renell Wren

DL

6-5

247

St. Louis, Mo.

Lutheran North H.S.

Arizona State

54

Alique Terry

OL

6-1

295

Miami, Fla.

Hialeah Senior H.S.

Wake Forest

55

Trey Lealaimatafao

DL

6-2

301

San Antonio, Texas

Earl Warren H.S.

LSU

56

Enoch Smith Jr.

DL

6-2

272

Plainfield, Ill.

Mount Carmel H.S.

Michigan State

66

Harrison Phillips

DL

6-4

260

Omaha, Neb.

Millard West H.S.

Stanford

69

Montel McBride

OL

6-4

332

Plant City, Fla.

Plant City H.S.

Alabama

70

Steven Moss

OL

6-5

273

Fredericksburg, Va.

Chancellor H.S.

Virginia

71

Dalton Risner

OL

6-4

285

Wiggins, Colo.

Wiggins H.S.

Kansas State

72

Isaiah Wynn

OL

6-2

270

St. Petersburg, Fla.

Lakewood H.S.

Georgia

73

James Hendren

OL

6-7

268

Medfield, Mass.

Dexter H.S.

Boston College

74

Craig Evans

DL

6-2

313

Sun Prairie, Wis.

Sun Prairie H.S.

Michigan State

75

Najee Toran

OL

6-3

263

Galena Park, Texas

North Shore H.S.

UCLA

76

Brady Taylor

OL

6-5

264

Columbus, Ohio

Bishop Ready H.S.

Ohio State

77

Brent Morrow

OL

6-2

275

St. Louis, Mo.

Ladue Horton Watkins H.S.

NW Missouri St.

84

Ishmael Zamora

WR

6-4

195

Houston, Texas

Alief Elsik H.S.

Baylor

90

Dylan Thompson

DL

6-4

271

Lombard, Ill.

Montini Catholic H.S.

Ohio State

92

Lawrence Marshall

DL

6-4

230

Southfield, Mich.

Southfield H.S.

Michigan

95

Billy Hirschfield

DT

6-6

270

Hartland, Wis.

Arrowhead H.S.

Wisconsin

99

Jalen Jelks

DL

6-5

249

Phoenix, Ariz.

Desert Vista H.S.

Oregon

           
U.S. Under-19 National Team coaching staff:

Name

Position

School/organization

Hometown

Brandon Faircloth

Head coach

Port Neches-Grove H.S.

Port Neches, Texas

Danny Cowgill

Defensive coordinator

Foley H.S.

Foley, Texas

Joe Dale Cary

Offensive line

Port Neches-Grove H.S.

Port Neches, Texas

Central McClellion

Defensive backs

American Heritage H.S.

Delray, Fla.

Verone McKinley

Running backs

Prestonwood Christian

Plano, Texas

Gary Salgado

Defensive line

Angelo State

San Angelo, Texas

Noel Scarlett

Strength and conditioning

4th & Inches Sports Performance

Dallas, Texas

John Shannon

Receivers

Biloxi H.S.

Biloxi, Miss.