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SWARCO Raiders host Dragons in semifinals


RB Andreas Hofbauer scored 7 TDs against the Dragons this year (Photo: Schellhorn)

On Saturday, July 12 the SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, play their last home game of the season. They host the Danube Dragons in the Austrian Football League (AFL) playoff semifinals. Kickoff at Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium is at 8:00 a.m. PT (5:00 p.m. CET).

In the other semifinal the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna host the Prague Black Panthers. The winners of both games meet on Saturday, July 26 in Austrian Bowl XXX. That game will be played in St. Pölten's NV Arena.

Follow the SWARCO Raiders live on ***. The live stream for this week's game starts on July 12 at 7:45 a.m. PT (4:45 p.m. CET).*

"The team is highly motivated and we will do everything we can to win our last home game of the year in front of our fans", said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "The Dragons are a very strong team offensively. We have to be very careful and can't make any mistakes. But we're well prepared. Some of our core players were able to regenerate and I'm sure we will give one hundred percent effort".

With four wins and four losses the Dragons enter the postseason as the third seeded team. On paper the Dragons were able to close the gap to the SWARCO Raiders and Vikings (both 6-2). But fact is they were not able to beat either one of these two teams.

The Dragons celebrated their four victories over the Graz Giants (14-13 at home; 48-37 on the road) and Black Panthers (28-25 on the road; 49-45 at home). Yet they lost twice to Vienna (31-10 at home; 42-10 on the road) and to the Tyroleans (44-20 at Innsbruck; 43-14 at home).

These results reflect the overall record of the rivalry between the SWARCO Raiders and the Dragons. The Tyroleans won 15 of the 17 matchups in the AFL and European Football League. They beat the Dragons eight times in a row. The only two losses came in the 2010 season. Since then the Tyroleans scored an average of 34.9 points per game against Danube and allowed only 12.4 points per contest. Of all their 15 victories over the Dragons only one was won by a single-digit margin (35-27 at Dragons in 2012).

But despite all the rivalry it is only the third time these foes will meet in the playoffs. In 2010 the Dragons won the Austrian Bowl 28-21 at Tivoli Stadium. In the offseason following that loss the SWARCO Raiders hired Fatah to become the new head coach. And in his very first season at the helm Fatah led the Tyroleans to a double championship. On their way to the Austrian Bowl and Eurobowl title the SWARCO Raiders beat the Dragons 29-0 in the 2011 AFL playoff semifinals.

The two matchups that took place this season were completely different games. In the game at Innsbruck SWARCO Raiders QB John van den Raadt threw 322 yards. In their second meeting he needed only 4 completions for 66 yards for the win. The reason for that was the strong running game as van den Raadt and RB Andreas Hofbauer combined for 233 yards. Hofbauer actually was great in both games. He had a total of 283 rushing yards and scored 7 touchdowns against the Dragons this season.

Van den Raadt finished the AFL regular season with 114 completions on 205 passes for 1,762 yards with 13 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also had 73 rushes for 512 yards and 8 touchdowns. His 1,762 passing yards were the second most in the AFL this season.

After an exhausting European championship Hofbauer hasn't seen much action lately. Still he finished the season as the league's top rusher. On 100 carries he gained 732 yards (7.3 yards per rush) and scored 14 touchdowns. He also caught 7 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. If Hofbauer should need a breather on Saturday Fatah will bank on an experienced veteran in RB Lukas Miribung. He gained 40 yards on 8 carries and scored once. Due to injuries and the World Junior Championships the third running back will be RB Filip Vlajic.

Van den Raadt spreads his passes to many different receivers. The young group was led by WR/K Clemens Erlsbacher, who caught 33 balls for 507 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR Julian Ebner had 17 catches for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR Damaso Tarneller caught 16 passes for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns. WR Christian Willi had 12 receptions for 118 yards. The team will have to play without WR Adrian Platzgummer and his 25 catches for 388 yards and 6 total touchdowns on Saturday. He leads team Austria as quarterback in the World Juniors in Kuwait.

Erlsbacher also remains the focal point on special teams. He kicked 6 field goals and 29 extra points. He had 20 kickoff returns for 615 yards and a touchdown and punted 19 times for 759 yards (39.9 yards per punt).

On defense LB Fabian Seeber led the AFL with 49.5 tackles (38 solo). He also had 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, an interception and 2 fumble recoveries. LB Florian Hueter had 35 tackles (26 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, an interception and a forced fumble. DL/LB Philipp Margreiter led the Tyroleans with 8.5 tackles for loss and 5 sacks. He had a total of 29 tackles (22 solo) and forced a fumble. LB Simon Hoser had 26.5 tackles (22 solo), forced and recovered a fumble and had a tackle for loss.

DB Markus Krause led the Tyrolean backfield with 27.5 tackles (21 solo) and 3 interceptions. DB Alexander Achammer also had 27.5 tackles (26 solo) and 2 tackles for loss. He caught one interception in the BIG6. DB Arno Andreas had 26.5 tackles (22 solo). He caught 2 interceptions in the BIG6. DB Simon Muigg caught 2 interceptions and had 13.5 tackles (10 solo), including 2 tackles for loss. DB Simon Unterrainer had 10 tackles (8 solo) and a tackle for loss. DB Enrico Martini had 8.5 tackles (5 solo), including one tackle for loss and caught an interception. DB Patrick Pilger led the team with 6 tackles at Prague two weeks ago. But he also plays at the World Juniors.

DL Maximilian Pichler had 2 sacks, 4 tackles for loss and 9 total tackles (7 solo). DL Ralf Stefanitsch had 4 tackles (4 solo), a sack and a tackle for loss. DL Reinhard Pardeller had 10 tackles (8 solo) and 5 tackles for loss. DL Korbinian Hoffmann had a sack, 2 tackles for loss and 13 tackles (10 solo). DL Philipp Popp had 7 tackles (4 solo) and a 1.5 tackles for loss. He also recovered a fumble. DL Manuel Jovic had 8 tackles (6 solo), 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Dragons QB Cary Grossart completed 108 of 176 passes for 1,475 yards with 18 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in the AFL regular season. He also had 52 rushes for 220 yards and 3 touchdowns.

His main weapon is WR Thomas Haider, who led the team with 45 catches for 656 yards and 10 touchdowns. WR Georg Pongratz caught 30 balls for 376 yards and 4 touchdowns. WR Johannes Prammer had 27 receptions for 498 yards and 3 touchdowns. RB Dominik Kecskemeti led the team with 64 rushes for 368 yards and 3 touchdowns. RB Florian Pos had 46 rushes for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns. He gained 97 of his total yards on the 43-14 home loss against the SWARCO Raiders.

The Dragons defense is led by DB Sascha Verhoeven and his 37 tackles (23 solo). He also had a tackle for loss. LB Niko Stieldorf had 29.5 tackles (21 solo) with 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble. DB Matthias Rebl had 26 tackles (23 solo) and a tackle for loss. He also caught two of his team's four interceptions. The other two were caught by DB DB Maximilian Katzenbeisser and DB Schahin Gholami.

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