Nicole Betker

The IFAF World Team won a thrilling 2012 International Bowl 35-29 despite a U.S. Under-19 National Team comeback that fell just short in the fourth quarter.

The game marked Team USA’s first loss in international competition at the senior or junior level, including the 2007 and 2011 IFAF Senior World championships, the 2009 U-19 IFAF World Championship and two previous International Bowls.

Winnipeg native and current University of Manitoba running back Anthony Coombs rushed for a game-high 147 yards and two touchdowns while quarterback Will Finch of Burlington, Ontario completed 11-of-14 passes for 169 yards and a pair of scores to lead the World team to the victory.

The World Team got first half touchdown catches from Tevaun Smith (Toronto, ON) and Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren (Edmonton, AB) and a rushing touchdown from game MVP Anthony Coombs to take a 21-9 commanding halftime lead at Austin, Texas’ Kelly Reeves Sports Complex.

With his 75-yard touchdown reception from Will Finch, Gilbert-Knorren became the first player to score in two International Bowls.

Finch found defensive end-turned-tight end Daryl Waud (Hamilton, ON) in the left corner of the end zone for his second touchdown pass of the game, widening the lead 28-9 with 2:47 to play in the third quarter.

A 12-yard scoring strike by Team USA cut the World lead to 28-16 with 17 seconds left in the third quarter.

Coombs opened the fourth quarter with 62-yard touchdown scamper to extend the lead to 35-16 with 11:48 left in the game.

The game appeared won with a little more than five minutes remaining until the hosts scored twice to move within touching distance of what would have been a dramatic comeback. The World Team recovered an onside kick and ran out the clock before treating second-year head coach Greg Marshall to a Gatorade bath on the sideline, sparking wild celebrations.

“This is huge,” Coombs said. “People don’t think anyone can play outside of the United States. “This is going to make the US take this event more seriously and it’s also going to inspire tons of little kids around the world. It feels great that we did this.”