-Written by Grant Gordon
Team U.S.A. will be vying for two flag football gold medals at The World Games 2022.
The United States women's and men's flag national teams advanced to the finals of the World Games with semifinal triumphs over Austria on Wednesday in Birmingham, Alabama.
While the men's team ran roughshod over Austria, 54-19, the women's squad needed to rally against its Austrian counterpart, 36-32, on the strength of a game-winning touchdown pass by quarterback Vanita Krouch to Deliah Autry with 2:54 remaining in the game.
The U.S. women's team will go for gold on Thursday against Mexico, which beat Panama in the semifinals; and the Team U.S.A. men will face Italy, which bested Mexico in the semis, in the final, which is also Thursday.
Krouch threw five touchdowns to lead the U.S. women's team (5-0) to a dramatic second-half comeback after it trailed, 32-22, with just more than 10 minutes to play. Krouch threw a pair of touchdowns to Sheneika Comice and one apiece to Joann Overstreet, Autry and Crystal Daniels, who also had a two-point conversion.
The nail-biting win for the U.S. women was hardly surprising as they edged Austria, 27-21, in group play.
Do-it-tall talent Ladderick Smith had four total touchdowns -- two passing, one receiving, one rushing -- in the U.S. men's romp. QB Darrell Doucette tossed four TDs and Johnny Rembert caught three as the U.S. continued its undefeated 5-0 run.
The 16-team World Games tournaments mark the first time flag football has been part of an international, multi-sport event, according to U.S.A. Football.
U.S. flag national squads are run by USA Football, the sport's national governing body and a member of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee. All national teams are part of the International Federation of American Football (IFAF).