Canada jumped out to a 10-0 first half lead it would never relinquish and went on to stun top-seeded Team USA 23-17 to capture the Gold Medal at the International Federation of American Football Under-19 Championship.
"We had one goal and one goal in mind and that was to come back with a Gold Medal around our neck," said Canada head coach Noel Thorpe after his nation's victory in Burger Stadium in Austin, Texas on Saturday night. "These guys believed in it and they played 48 minutes of solid football. I couldn't be prouder of these guys.
"It was a hell of a game. It came down to an onside kick. It doesn't get any closer than that."
USA head coach Steve Specht, whose team almost forced a dramatic fourth quarter comeback added: "Both teams played hard. There was ebb and flow. They just made one more play than we did. Give Canada credit. They played a heck of a game.
"The kids played their hearts out. I'm proud of these young men. I hope they don't put the destination ahead of the journey. They made friends for a lifetime here these two weeks. That outweighs any game."
Alexandre Huard returned a punt 59 yards for a score and Louis-Philippe Simoneau kicked a 21-yard field goal to stake Canada to a 10-0 first half lead.
Simoneau opened the scoring with a 21-yard field goal gave Canada a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter. The score was set up by an interception by Canada MVP Kevin McGee, who ended the night with two picks and five tackles, and gave Team Canada the ball at the USA 40-yard line. The big play on the drive was a 22-yard pass from Will Finch to Doug Corby down to the USA 7-yard line.
"I'm happy for the team," said McGee. "It's an honor to be named MVP but this was a team victory. We worked really hard for two weeks. We're really happy right now.
"This week has been the best experience of my life. I met some new people, I worked really hard and I think I'm a better football player after this."
The interception was the first turnover by the United States in six games of IFAF U19 Championship competition. The 3-0 lead also marked the first time the United States trailed in two championship tournament appearances.
Team Canada special teams gave the No. 2 seed a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter when Huard fielded a Cameron Van Winkle punt at the Canada 41 and returned it 59 yards for a score with 8:24 left in the half.
Huard did not fare as well on the next US punt, fumbling a fair catch at the Canada 14. The ball cannoned back to the 35 before Darius Mosley fell on it for Team USA.
Following a Canada pass interference penalty on first down that moved the ball down to the Canada 20, Brayden Scott found Demarcus Ayers for 15 yards down to the five-yard line. Scott hit Ayers again three plays later for a touchdown to cut the Canada lead to 10-7 with 4:39 left in the half.
Canada upped the lead to 16-7 on the opening series of the third quarter as Finch moved the Canadians 81 yards on five plays with Christopher Amoah taking a screen pass and rumbling 26 yards for the score. A bad snap on the PAT left the lead at nine.
Team USA answered on its next drive, moving 78 yards in 11 plays before Scott hit Rodney Adams from 12 yards out to trim the Canada lead to 16-14 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.
Canada extended the lead with a 64-yard drive midway through the fourth quarter, upping the score to 23-14 with 5:10 left in the game on a 10-yard run by Mercer Timmis.
"I think we did what we wanted to do running the football," said Canada's coach Thorpe. "We established ourselves at the line of scrimmage and they did a heck of a job - and our running backs as well. Our quarterbacks did a good job managing the football game and also running with the football.
"It's exactly what we thought it would be. We had to control the tempo of the football game and we knew it had to happen up front with the offensive line and that was our game plan going into the tournament and we kept with it all the way through."
Canada appeared to have iced then game when Scott was intercepted for the second time on the night by McGee to end the next drive. Canada drove to the US 26 before a bad shotgun snap rolled all the way back to the Canada 45 where it was recovered by Team USA's Tyler Willis. A personal foul call moved the ball to the Canada 30 and Cameron Van Winkle drilled a 43-yard field goal to cut the lead to 23-17 with 1:47 to go.
Out of timeouts, Team USA went with an on-side kick. The Americans fielded the ball before it traveled 10 yards, which would have given the ball to Canada but the Canadians were ruled to be offside on the kick. On the re-kick Canada recovered at their own 24 and ran out the clock.
Ayers was named USA MVP for the second time in the tournament, catching five passes for 38 yards and a touchdown.