SWARCO Raiders celebrate comeback win at Graz

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The SWARCO Raiders are off to a perfect start, winning their second game of the season. The marketing teammate of The Oakland Raiders won their first of three consecutive road contests, celebrating a 34-20 (0-6; 0-7; 13-0; 21-7) victory at the Turek Graz Giants. After a disappointing first half the Tyroleans scored all 34 points in the second half.

In their 25th meeting with Graz in an AFL or EFL contest the SWARCO Raiders won for the 12th time. It was also their second straight road victory at Graz. QB Kyle Callahan completed 23 of 31 passes for 225 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

"We had a rocky first half. But in the second half we really started to buy coach Shuan Fatah's system and found our rhythm. You really could tell we were jelling", said Callahan. "I have to give lots of credit to our defense. They played great in the second half and put the final nail in the coffin."

WR Jakob Dieplinger caught 4 balls for 56 yards and two touchdowns. WR Talib Wise had 8 catches for 83 yards, a punt return for 11 yards and a kickoff return for 56 yards. RB Florian Grein rushed 11 times for 55 yards and two scores. The SWARCO Raiders defense played a big role in the win, too. In the second half the Tyrolean defenders intercepted three of QB Chris Gunn's passes that lead to 14 points. S John Clements picked off a pass as well as did LB Michael Süß. DE Robert Zernicke even returned an interception for a touchdown.

After K/WR Pascal Maier's kickoff the home team started at their own 32-yard line. On third down QB Chris Gunn showed why he is so important for his team. Not finding any open receiver he scrambled 8 yards for a first down. Later he hit WR/RB Charles McCrea at the SWARCO Raiders 17 with a 30-yard pass. Gunn finished off the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to WR Maximilian Herdey. The PAT was blocked, but Graz led 6-0 with 7:18 left in the first quarter.

The SWARCO Raiders opened their first possession at the 42 after a good kickoff return by Clements. Callahan found Wise at the Graz 40 moments later. Then Grein broke loose for 14 yards, followed by a 16-yard pass from Callahan to Maier. But the Tyroleans ended up empty-handed, when Callahan's fourth down pass sailed wide.

Graz started at their own 3, quickly moving the ball to the opposing 33. After Gunn couldn't convert on fourth down, the Tyroleans took over on downs. Wise gained 8 yards on first down. Grein followed with a 5-yard run. Later Callahan found Maier at the Giants 37. The SWARCO Raiders then went for it on fourth down from the 31, but Callahan's throw was too high for Wise and DB Manuel Schneeweiss picked off the pass.

After a penalty Graz started at their own 14. Gunn threw a short pass to McCrea, who ran to the opposing 45. Two complete passes later Graz had a first down at the 16. Gunn then ran 9 yards on third down. And on fourth down he marched into the endzone from 7 yards out. The PAT was good, giving Graz a 13-0 lead with 3:37 left in the second.

Starting at his own 21, Callahan moved his team to the Graz 40, completing passes to WR Andreas Pröller and* *Dieplinger, but also gaining yards on the ground. Then a pass intended for Pröller was intercepted by DB Christof Promitzer. The SWARCO Raiders defense forced the game's first punt, but the offense didn't have enough time left to score before the break.

Clements started the second half with yet another strong return, bringing the ball back to the SWARCO Raiders 43. A short pass to Pröller, a Grein run and a penalty gave the Tyroleans a new set of downs. With five completions on six throws Callahan marched his team to the 8-yard line. Grein finished off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run. The PAT was blocked after a bad snap. With 7:34 left in the third the SWARCO Raiders trailed 6-13.

Graz opened its first drive of the second half from their own 32 with a run by Gunn to the Tyrolean 41. Consecutive penalties gave Graz a first down at the opposing 17. But on fourth down LB Phillip Margreiterand LB Florian Hueter stopped Gunn short of a first down. The SWARCO Raiders offense couldn't score on their next possession. And after a 60-yard punt by Maier the Giants started at their own 12.

On the very first play from scrimmage Clements caught an acrobatic interception at the Giants 24. On the next play Callahan threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Dieplinger. K Emmanuel Trinkl added the extra point. With 20 seconds left in the third the game was tied at 13.

On the Giants' next drive, Gunn lead his team deep into enemy territory. He finished off the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to WR Wolfrum Hofbauer. The PAT was good and gave Graz a 20-13 lead with 9:21 left in the game.

Wise returned the ensuing kickoff return to the Giants 21. After a 6-yard pass to Maier, Callahan found Dieplinger for a 15-yard touchdown pass. Another bad snap resulted in no extra point. But with 8:27 left in fourth, Graz lead only by one point – 20-19.

Now it was on the SWARCO Raiders defense to deliver the big play. And it did. DL Benedikt Brugnara sacked Gunn for an 8-yard loss. Later Graz had to punt and Wise returned the ball to the opposing 40. After a short rush by Grein, Callahan threw a 20-yard pass to Wise. Grein then rushed for 3 yards. Wise caught a 2-yarder and then Callahan found Wise at the 1-yard line. Grein then scored from one yard out. He added two points on the two-point conversion, eluding several would-be tacklers on his way into the endzone. With 3:20 left the SWARCO Raiders lead for the first time in the game. They were up 27-20.

Graz started their next possession at their own 30 and opened the drive with a 14-yard run by McCrea. But on the very next play Zernicke read Gunn perfectly, picked off his pass and returned the ball 44 yards for a touchdown. After a successful PAT the Tyroleans led 34-20 with 2:31 left.

The Giants weren't giving up and started with good field position. After a penalty on the SWARCO Raiders, Graz got the ball at their own 47. But any comeback hopes were destroyed by Süß, who picked off Gunn in SWARCO Raiders territory. A 20-yard run by Grein sealed the deal and the Tyroleans were able to run down the clock.

On Sunday, April 10, the SWARCO Raiders travel to Prague to face the Panthers. A week later, on Sunday, April 17, the Tyroleans play at Vienna against the Raiffeisen Vikings.

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