QB Kyle Callahan led the SWARCO Raiders to a 29-0 win over the Danube Dragons and a berth in the Austrian Bowl. Photo by Schellhorn.
The SWARCO Raiders, The Oakland Raiders' Austrian sister team, advanced to Austrian Bowl XXVII. In the playoff semifinal of the Austrian Football League (AFL) the Tyroleans defeated last year's Austrian Football League champion Danube Dragons 29-0 (12-0; 7-0; 7-0; 3-0).
Thanks to the win the SWARCO Raiders will play in both the Austrian Bowl and the Eurobowl for the second time since 2008. The Austrian Bowl takes place on June 23 at Vienna's Ernst-Happel stadium. Five days earlier the SWARCO Raiders will host reigning Eurobowl champion Berlin Adler in the European Football League's (EFL) final.
Two weeks after the thriller against the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna the Tyroleans had little problems with the Dragons. "We played a great game from the first to the last minute," said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. He has led his team to both finals in his first season as head coach in Innsbruck. "It was always my goal to reach both finals. Now that we have reached our goals everything else we will accomplish is a nice extra."
QB Kyle Callahan completed 9 of 16 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 5 times for 50 yards and a score. RB Florian Grein gained 81 yards on 13 carries and scored a touchdown. WR Andreas Pröller led his team with 4 catches for 55 yards. WR Jakob Dieplingercaught 2 balls for 80 yards and a touchdown and WR Pascal Maier hauled in 2 passes for 84 yards.
The defense held the Dragons scoreless in both meetings this season and pitched a shutout for the fourth time this season. They gave up only 182 total yards to the Dragons. S John Clements caught an interception – his fifth of the season.
The SWARCO Raiders kicked off and the Dragons started at their own 24. A run by RB Andrew Jackson gave the Dragons a first down. A screen pass from QB Thomas Haider to RB Markus Laaber gained 23 yards. But the drive stalled when the defense stopped Haider on 4th down, forcing a turnover on downs. Starting at their own 25, Callahan opened the drive with an 8-yard run. He then hit Pröller for 15 yards. On the next play Callahan ran away from the pressure for 28 yards to the Dragons 18. After a short run by Grein and a 6-yard pass to Dieplinger, Grein scored on an 8-yard touchdown run. The PAT was blocked. The SWARCO Raiders led 6-0 with 4:10 left in the first.
The guest team's second drive ended on the second play when Clements picked off a pass from Haider at the Tyroleans 45. It was his fifth interception of the season. Moments later the SWARCO Raiders offense had a big play themselves. Callahan eluded two tacklers and then threw a 47-yard pass to* *Maier. On the very next play Wise scored on a 4-yard touchdown run. The PAT went wide, but the Tyroleans extended their lead to 12-0 with 1:40 left in the first.
Starting at their own 17 on their third possession the Dragons trusted their running game. Rushes by Jackson, Laaber, RB Michael Janik and WR Jimmy Russell moved the ball to the SWARCO Raiders 9. But a missed 34-yard field goal by K Sebastian Daum left the Dragons scoreless.
The Tyroleans regained the ball at their own 20. On 3rd and 10 yards to go Callahan found a wide-open Dieplinger for a 74-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was good, giving the SWARCO Raiders a 19-0 lead with 4:25 left in the second.
The second half started with another successful SWARCO Raiders drive. Starting at their own 20 Grein opened the drive with a 16-yard run. Callahan then found Pröller for 17 yards. Grein added 11 yards, before Pröller caught another pass for 11 yards. From the Dragons 19 Callahan rushed for 4 yards. Two penalties gave the Tyroleans a first down at the 4. Grein rushed for 3 yards and Callahan finished off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The PAT was good. With 8:40 left in the third the SWARCO Raiders led 26-0.
Starting at their own 20 the team from Klosterneuburg was able to gain some yards on the ground. Especially Laaber looked good. Twice the Dragons went for it on fourth down – both times with success. A penalty gave them a first down at the Tyroleans 4. But the SWARCO Raiders defense stepped up once again, stopping the Dragons on four downs.
The offense regained the ball close to their own goalline. Runs by Grein and Callahan gave them a fresh set of downs. Then Grein broke loose for gains of 9 yards and 13 yards. Moments later Callahan threw a 36-yard pass to Maier at the Dragons 22. The drive ended with K Christian Kellner's34-yard field goal with 6:30 left in the fourth. The SWARCO Raiders were up 29-0.
The ensuing Dragons' drive ended with yet another turnover on downs, forced by sacks by DT Gerald Breymann and DL Johannes Leithmayer. The Tyroleans took over at the opposing 42. Looking to run out the clock they were forced to punt. But the defense held the Dragons in check one more time to secure the shutout.
On Saturday, June 18 the SWARCO Raiders host Berlin Adler in Eurobowl XXV. The European Football League's final kicks off at 11:30 a.m. PT (8:30 p.m. CET). On Thursday, June 23 the SWARCO Raiders play in Austrian Bowl XXVII (opponent TBD).