SWARCO RAIDERS lose season opener

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QB Sean Shelton threw three TD passes (Photo: Markus Stieg)

The SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol, partner team of The Oakland Raiders, have lost their Austrian Football League (AFL) season opener. On Sunday the Tyroleans fell on the road 26-21 (3-0, 10-0, 7-14, 0-14) to the Vienna Vikings.

"We missed our opportunities. We made too many mistakes", said SWARCO RAIDERS head coach Shuan Fatah. "Despite the loss I'm very optimistic that we will play a major role in the league this season".

In his debut for the SWARCO RAIDERS Tirol QB Sean Shelton completed 19 of 39 passes for 250 yards with 3 touchdowns and one interception. He also led the team with 8 rushes for 31 yards. WR Clemens Erlsbacher caught 5 balls for 65 yards and 2 touchdowns. He added 3 extra points. WR Christian Willi had 5 catches for 70 yards and a score. DB Patrick Pilger led his team with 7.5 tackles (6 solo), caught an interception and had a sack.

The Vikings won the coin toss and elected to receive. The first two drives went nowhere though. The same pictures on the other side where the SWARCO RAIDERS punted on their first possession and then turned the ball over on an interception. Taking over at their own 47 the Vikings marched close to the goal line before they settled for a 19-yard field goal by K Christopher Kappel. 4:53 minutes were left in the first.

Vienna extended its lead after the second Tyrolean turnover. A fumble gave the Vikings the ball at their 8. QB Alexander Thury led his team downfield. Kappel then scored on a 41-yard field goal with 10:48 minutes left in the second to give Vienna a 6-0 lead.

On Vienna's next drive Pilger picked off a pass from Thury at Vienna's 20-yard line. But moments later the SWARCO RAIDERS turned the ball over on downs. Starting at the 11 the Vikings marched again. Thury finished the drive with a 34-yard touchdown pass to WR Dominik Bubik. Kappel added the PAT to give the home site a 13-0 lead with 74 seconds left in the second.

On the first possession of the third quarter the SWARCO RAIDERS finally scored. RB Sandro Platzgummer returned the opening kickoff to the Vienna 12. After a penalty Shelton threw a 17-yard scoring strike to Erlsbacher. The receiver also added the extra point to cut Vienna's lead to 13-7 with 11:16 minutes left in the third.

Vienna had an answer, though. Starting at their 29 RB Islaam Amadu and RB Anthony Stevenson took control and led the charge. Then Thury found WR Stefan Postel for a 38-yard touchdown pass. The PAT was no good, but the Vikings were up 19-7 with 7:07 minutes left in the third.

After a Tyrolean punt Vienna marched again. And with 2:58 minutes left in the third Thury found Postel again in the endzone, this time for an 18-yard scoring pass. Kappel's PAT gave the Vikings a 26-7 lead.

The SWARCO RAIDERS now started a furious rally. Starting at their own 27 a run by Shelton was good for a first down. Moments later he found Willi for 21 yards on third and 20. Then WR Adrian Platzgummer caught a 34-yarder. The drive ended with Shelton's 10-yard touchdown pass to Erlsbacher. After the extra point the score was 26-14 in favor of Vienna with 9:36 minutes left in the fourth.

With about three minutes remaining the Tyroleans regained possession at their own 30. Willi started the drive with an 8-yard catch. A penalty moved the chains 15 yards. Then Sandro Platzgummer caught passes of 10, 11 and 18 yards. Shelton finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Willi. Erlsbacher kicked the extra point to make it 26-21 with 37 seconds left. But Vienna then recovered the onside kick to secure the win. The SWARCO RAIDERS play their next game on Saturday, April 4 when they travel to Vienna to face the Danube Dragons in the AFL. On Sunday, April 5 they will open the BATTLE4TIROL series with a game against the Stuttgart Scorpions at Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium.

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