Despite missing injured QB Kyle Callahan the SWARCO Raiders showed an encouraging performance in the last regular season game of the Austrian Football League (AFL). Oakland’s sister team lost 14-12 (7-0; 7-3; 0-0; 0-6) and enters the AFL playoffs as the second seeded team.
The Tyroleans will host the JCL Giants Graz in the playoff semifinals on Saturday, July 14.
Callahan sat out with a shoulder injury he sustained in last week’s EFL semifinal against the Calanda Broncos. That made RB Florian Grein the quarterback in a wildcat offense. The three-time Eurobowl MVP had 19 rushes for 45 yards and completed 7 of 12 passes for 43 yards. “We can be very satisfied with what we showed after just one week of preparation”, Grein said. “The defense played well today. And it was lots of fun to play quarterback. Now we have to get ready for the game against the Giants”.
SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah was also very pleased with what he saw on the field: “It was a great game. I’m proud of our team and our fans. They carried the team out there today. And we played like we were in a zone. This was truly redemption for last week’s performance”.
WR Talib Wise had 11 rushes for 67 yards. K Christian Kellner connected on all four of his field goal tries. He kicked field goals of 25, 38, 43 and 49 yards. LB Chris James led the team with 9 tackles. LB Mario Rinner and LB Philipp Margreiter had 6.5 tackles each.
The Vikings had the game’s opening kickoff. The SWARCO Raiders started their first drive at their own 28. Without Callahan it was mainly on Grein and Wise to create yards. Still the first possession ended with a punt by WR Clemens Erlsbacher. His punt was downed at the opposing 6. Right from the start RB Dusty Thornhill was the linchpin of Vienna’s offense. A run by Thornhill gained 8 yards and a first down. Later he caught a 20-yard pass from QB Christoph Gross. Then he had a 16-yard run. Thornhill finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. K Sebastian Daum added the PAT to give Vienna a 7-0 lead with 3:29 minutes left in the first.
Wise returned the ensuing kickoff to the Tyrolean 45. Grein started the drive with a 6-yard run. Wise then rushed for 9 yards. Later he had a 10-yard run. Grein added a 5-yard run. A holding penalty took a touchdown run by Wise off the board. But Wise ran for a first down at the Vikings 15 two plays later. Grein then threw an 8-yard pass to WR Damaso Tarneller. But the drive stalled and the SWARCO Raiders had to settle for a field goal. Kellner was good from 25 yards out, cutting Vienna’s lead to 7-3 with 9:25 minutes left in the second.
The Vikings began their next possession at their own 27. A completion from Gross to WR Manuel Thaller gave Vienna a fresh set of downs at their own 46. A penalty against the home-site gave the Vikings a first down at the opposing 22. Moments later Gross threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to WR Maximilian Kössler. The PAT was good and the Vikings were up 14-3 with 4:13 minutes left in the second.
DB Enrico Martini returned the ensuing kickoff into enemy territory and a facemask penalty on the return gave the SWARCO Raiders a first down at the Vikings 34. Grein threw a 14-yard pass to Erlsbacher for a first down. But yet again the defense stopped the Tyroleans in the redzone. Kellner cut the lead to 14-6 with a 38-yard field goal. 60 seconds were left before halftime.
Vienna opened the second half at their own 8. They marched into Tyrolean territory, before the defense forced a punt. The SWARCO Raiders offense regained possession at their own 11. A pitch from Grein to Wise moved the ball 32 yards, but a few plays later the Tyroleans had to punt. Erlsbacher’s punt was downed at the 12. A sack by DT Bene Brugnara forced yet another Vikings punt.
The SWARCO Raiders offense took over at midfield after the punt. A pitch from Grein to Tarneller moved the chains to the Vikings 23. Later Grein ran for 10 yards and 5 yards. But a penalty moved the ball back and forced the Tyroleans to kick another field goal. This time Kellner was good from 43 yards. The SWARCO Raiders trailed 14-9 with 6:39 minutes left in the fourth.
After a touchback on the ensuing kickoff Vienna started at their own 20. The SWARCO Raiders forced a three-and-out. After the punt Wise returned the ball to the opposing 46. On the first play from scrimmage Grein passed for 8 yards to Erlsbacher. After short rushes by Wise and Grein the Tyroleans were stopped at the 32. Kellner came on for his fourth field goal try and he connected from 49 yards out to cut the Vikings lead to 14-12. 2:58 minutes were left in the fourth.
The following onside kick was recovered by Thornhill at the Tyrolean 39. Three straight rushes by Thornhill did not result in a first down. The team decided to go for it on fourth down, but Thornhill was stopped by Wise behind the line of scrimmage. The SWARCO Raiders took over at their own 34. Grein opened the drive with a 5-yard pass to Tarneller. After two short runs by Grein he passed to Wise on fourth down. But the receiver was tackled shy of the first-down marker. The turnover on downs sealed Vienna’s win.
On Saturday, July 14 the SWARCO Raiders will host the JCL Giants Graz in the AFL playoff semifinals.