The regular season in the Austrian Football League (AFL) is slowly drawing to end. In week 9, the SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, are on the road and face the Danube Dragons. Kickoff at Vienna's Stadlau stadium is on Saturday at 8 a.m. PT (5 p.m. CET).
"We're getting closer to the crunch time of the season. From now on every mistake will get punished even harder. That's why we have to be very focused playing the Dragons", said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "Unlike when we played them earlier in the season they will have quarterback Jonathan Dally in the lineup. Saturday will be a whole new ballgame".
The Dragons (3-5) need to win one more game to secure a playoff-spot. They scored at least 34 points in four of their last five contests. In three of those games Thomas Haider was the quarterback. The last two games Dally was back after his ankle injury. He threw 5 touchdown passes in his return against the Rangers. But a week later he got picked off four times against the Vikings.
The SWARCO Raiders played the Dragons a total of twelve times in the AFL and European Football League (EFL), winning ten of those matchups. Only in 2010 the Dragons were able to come out on top (including the Austrian Bowl). The SWARCO Raiders scored an average of 40.08 points per game against the Dragons.
QB Kyle Callahan was especially successful against the Dragons. In three contests he completed 31 of 45 passes for 612 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also rushed 14 times for 95 yards and 2 touchdowns. RB Florian Grein combined for 212 yards and 4 touchdowns on 30 carries since 2011 against the Dragons.
When the Tyroleans beat the Dragons 31-7 in week 3 this season three other players also stood out. WR Julian Ebner caught 4 balls for 75 yards and a score. WR Damaso Tarneller caught 4 balls for 68 yards and LB Chris James forced two fumbles, had two sacks and blocked a punt in his debut for the team.
Overall the SWARCO Raiders defense forced 14 turnovers (2nd place AFL), allowed only 12.75 first downs and 246.9 yards per game. The defense also gave up only 7.63 points per game to opposing offenses (61 total offensive points allowed).
CB Manuel Eisenführer, LB Christoph Schilcher, (2 each), S John Clements, LB Florian Hueter and DB Patrick Pilger(each with one) caught the interceptions. Clements returned a pick 90 yards for a score. DL Bene Brugnara, DL Markus Eitzenberger, LB Mario Rinner, LB Philipp Margreiter, Clements, DL Markus Hechenberger and Hofbauer each recovered a fumble.
Schilcher leads the team with 32 tackles (26 solo). Margreiter had 30.5 tackles (22 solo) so far. Next in line are Hueter (28 tackles; 19 solo), DB Martin Breitsching (20.5 tackles; 13 solo) and DT Reinhard Pardeller (20 tackles; 17 solo) and Eisenführer (16.5 tackles; 15 solo).
Margreiter also returned a blocked punt for a touchdown. James had 3 sacks, 4 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles and a blocked punt in two games. Eitzenberger, Schilcher, Pardeller and DB Arno Andreas also forced one fumble each. The team's sacks were prdouced by Pardeller (2), Eitzenberger (1.5), Rinner, Margreiter, DE Max Pichler (one each) and Hueter (0.5).
On offense Callahan completed 90 of 149 passes for a 60.4 completion percentage (2nd place) and 1,368 yards (3rd in the league). He threw 11 touchdowns with only 2 picks. Callahan also gained 427 yards and scored 6 touchdowns on 56 rushes. His 1,795 total-yards from scrimmage are second-best in the AFL. RB Andreas Hofbauer had 70 rushes for 278 yards with 8 touchdowns. Grein had 38 runs for 203 yards and scored three times. RB Lukas Miribung gained 113 yards on 21 carries and scored 4 touchdowns.
Ebner leads the SWARCO Raiders with 23 catches for 344 yards and 4 touchdowns. Tarneller caught 20 passes for 274 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Clemens Erlsbacher hauled in 12 balls for 231 yards and 2 scores. WR Talib Wise played only two games thus far, catching 9 balls for 177 yards and a touchdown. He also ran the ball 7 times for 15 yards and 2 scores. WR Christian Willi had 9 catches for 146 yards and a touchdown.
Erlsbacher also excels on special teams. He punted 21 times for 759 yards (36.1 yards per punt). 14 punts were downed inside the opposing 20-yard line. He also returned 5 punts for 138 yards. Clements had 5 punt returns for 93 yards and a touchdown. Wise had 5 returns for 83 yards. The Tyroleans had a total of 18 punt returns for 348 yards and 2 touchdowns. The punt coverage unit allowed only 15 yards on 4 returns.
The team's best kick returner is DB Enrico Martini, who averages 36.8 yards per return (6 for 221 yards). K Christian Kellner was good on 5 of 8 field goal tries and on 24 of 25 points after touchdown. Erlsbacher connected on 12 of 14 extra points.
The Dragons are led by Dally, who completed 43 of 90 passes for 628 yards with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He also ran 14 times for 45 yards and a touchdown. Haider completed 50 percent of his passes (76 of 152) for 881 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also caught 18 passes for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns.
With 87 rushes for 633 yards and 9 touchdowns RB Tunde Ogun is the AFL's second-best ball carrier. WR Corey Stollmeyer is among the league's best. In only five games he caught 33 balls for 424 yards and 5 touchdowns. WR Wolfgang Irbinger caught 20 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. WR Georg Pongratz caught 14 balls for 217 yards and 5 touchdowns.
LB Jakob Baran leads his team with 35 tackles (23 solo). He also had 8.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks. LB Ramon Azim had 11 tackles for loss, including 2 sacks. DL Martin Nemeth had 7.5 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. DB Schahin Gholami is the Dragons second-best tackler with 32.5 tackles (27 solo).
Watch the SWARCO Raiders 2012 season live and as-live for free onwww.raidersTV.at.