S John Clements returned an interception 45 yards for a score (Photo: Schellhorn).
Within one week the SWARCO Raiders, marketing teammate of The Oakland Raiders, faced two national champions. Both times they ended up on top. After defeating the Austrian champion Danube Dragons 28-0 last weekend, the Tyroleans also beat the French champion, winning 41-6 (21-0; 14-0; 0-6; 6-0) against the Amiens Spartiates. With the victory the SWARCO Raiders advanced to the Eurobowl semifinals for the seventh straight year.
Their opponent in the semifinals will be determined on Sunday, when the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna host the Calanda Broncos (Switzerland).
SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah was very excited about the win: "We keep improving. Our offense had the start we were hoping for and our defense played very well again. But we can't rest on the accomplished. We have to keep improving, because we have to play the best we can in the last game of the season."
The SWARCO Raiders dominated the contest right from the start. While the offense scored on their first four possessions, the defense also scored a touchdown and allowed Amiens only 6 first downs and 155 total yards.
The defense was in full command, especially in the first half. After forcing the Spartiates to three straight three-and-outs to open the game, they forced three straight turnovers in the remaining possessions of the first half. S John Clements intercepted his fourth pass of the season, returning the ball for a touchdown. WR Talib Wise also picked off a pass and LB Christoph Schilcher recovered a fumble.
"We knew the French have some very fast receivers and a strong-armed quarterback. But we improved compared to last week and showed, how good we can play", said DE Mario Rinner, who lead his team with 7.5 tackles and also had a sack.
RB Florian Grein touched the ball just 8 times, but scored two touchdowns and had 85 total yards (6 rushes for 38 yards and 2 catches for 47 yards). RB Andreas Hofbauer gained 78 yards on 14 carries. QB Kyle Callahan completed 10 of 16 passes for 171 yards with 3 touchdowns and two interceptions. Wise caught 2 balls for 45 yards and a touchdown.
After the opening kickoff the Spartiates had to punt after just three plays. The SWARCO Raiders started their first drive at their own 34-yard line. On second down Callahan rushed for 9 yards. Then a pitch from Callahan to WR Andreas Pröller gave the Tyroleans a first down at the opposing 35. On the very next play Callahan threw a screen pass to Grein, who ran 35 yards into the endzone. K Dennis Wiehberg scored the extra point to give the SWARCO Raiders a 7-0 lead with 9:30 left in the first.
Amiens started their second possession at their own 10, but again had to punt. The Tyroleans got the ball back at the 46-yard line of the French champion. Grein gained 4 yards on the first play, then Wise caught a pass at the 32-yard line. On the next play Callahan hit WR Pascal Maier with a 9-yarder. After a short run by Grein and a catch by Pröller, Grein sprinted 14 yards for a touchdown. The PAT gave the SWARCO Raiders a 14-0 lead with 5:25 left in the first.
The third drive also ended with a three-and-out for Amiens. After a return by Wise the SWARCO Raiders started their third possession at the Spartiates 36. Grein ran the ball for 7 yards, then for 12 yards and 2 yards before Callahan threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to WR Jakob Dieplinger. Wiehberg added the extra point to give the Tyroleans a 21-0 lead with 1:15 left in the first.
A good kickoff return gave Amiens the ball at their own 31. But they couldn't gain much momentum. On the first play of the second half QB Mattison Perez' pass was tipped by his own man and Clements grabbed the interception. He returned the ball 45 yards for a score. After the PAT the SWARCO Raiders extended their lead to 28-0 with 11:50 left in the second.
The fifth Amiens possession finally brought the first first down of the game for the French champion. After a sack by Rinner, Perez completed two passes to WR Paul Durand and another pass to WR Mathieu Lapios – the later two on 4th downs. The Spartiates moved to the SWARCO Raiders 17-yard line, but gave away any chance to score from then on. First Perez pitched an ill-advised pass that got recovered by his running back way behind the line of scrimmage. Then Clements defended a perfectly thrown ball in the endzone. On fourth down Wise picked off Perez at the Tyroleans 16.
The SWARCO Raiders wanted to increase their lead, but a deep pass from Callahan was picked off by DB Aurélien Sempey and returned to the Tyroleans 5-yard line. But Amiens again failed to score, despite such great field position. On fourth down Perez mishandled the snap and Schilcher recovered the fumble at the 11-yard line.
Grein then opened the SWARCO Raiders drive with a 9-yard run and another run that was good for a fresh set of downs. Standing at his own 26 Callahan threw deep to Maier, who was tackled at the Amiens 35. On the very next play Callahan found Wise, who appeared to be down around the 5-yard line, but regained momentum and ran untouched into the endzone, scoring on a 35-yard touchdown pass. The PAT extended the lead to 35-0 with 73 seconds left in the first half.
The second half started with two mistakes by the SWARCO Raiders. First Callahan threw his second interception on the second play of the third quarter, when DB Odair Almeida Moreira picked off the ball at the Spartiates 17. The French team couldn't convert on the turnover and once again went three-and-out. On their next possession the Tyroleans turned the ball over again, this time on a fumble by WR Julian Ebner. And finally Amiens jumped on the opportunity. Perez lead his team deep into SWARCO Raiders territory and finished off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Durand on 4th down. The PAT was blocked. With 2:25 left in the third the SWARCO Raiders were up 35-6.
After a holding penalty the SWARCO Raiders started their next drive at their own 32. Pröller opened the drive with an 8-yard catch. Later Callahan ran 14 yards for a first down. That was followed by a 7-yard run by Hofbauer to the Amiens 29. Later Hofbauer added an 11-yard run to the 7. The drive ended with QB Damaso Tarneller pitching the ball to WR Christian Willi, who ran in from 3 yards out. The extra point attempt failed and the SWARCO Raiders lead 41-6 with 9:40 left in the fourth.
The Tyrolean defense forced a punt, yet again. Only this time their offense also had to punt. The Spartiates last drive ended when DE Reinhard Pardeller and DE Markus Hechenberger sacked Perez.
The SWARCO Raiders have a bye-week next weekend. On Saturday, May 21 they host the Salzburg Bulls in their last regular season AFL game.