In an exciting battle for first place in the Austrian Football League (AFL), the SWARCO Raiders lost for the first time this season. The sister-team of The Oakland Raiders fell 17-15 (7-0; 0-8; 3-0; 7-7) on the road to the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna.
It was the Tyroleans' first loss after eleven straight victories in the AFL and EFL (European Football League). It also marked their first loss against Vienna after two straight wins in the EFL semifinal 2011 and Austrian Bowl XXVII. The last SWARCO Raiders loss also came at Vienna.
"Congratulations to the Vikings on their victory," said SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. "We played a very good first half, but lost focus after the half. This threw us back several times. The Vikings had three explosive plays that would ultimately decide the outcome of the game."
QB Kyle Callahan completed 16 of 25 passes for 216 yards and an interception. He also had 4 rushes for 19 yards. In his second game of the season WR Talib Wise caught 6 balls for 111 yards and rushed 7 times for 15 yards and 2 touchdowns. WR Damaso Tarneller caught 6 passes for 49 yards. WR Julian Ebner had 3 catches for 35 yards. CB Manuel Eisenführer led the Tyroleans with 7.5 total tackles (7 solo) and DT Benedikt Brugnara recovered a fumble.
The home site won the coin toss and decided to receive. Vienna's first drive started at their own 47, but ended with a turnover. DL Markus Eitzenberger sacked Vikings QB Christoph Gross and knocked thw ball loose. Brugnara recovered the fumble at the opposing 40. The Tyrolean offense was not able to move the ball, sending out WR/P Clemens Erlsbacher for the first of his six punts of the day.
Both teams punted on their following drives, too. Towards the end of the first quarter the Vikings started a drive at their own 11. An 11-yard pass from Gross to WR Stefan Holzinger was good for a first down and got the offense rolling. A 10-yard run by Gross gave Vienna another set of downs and moments later RB Dusty Thornhill sprinted 53 yards for a touchdown. The PAT gave Vienna a 7-0 lead with 4 seconds left in the first.
After a 19-yard kickoff return by DB Enrico Martini the Tyroleans started the ensuing drive at their own 46. Callahan found Tarneller for 18 yards on the first play from scrimmage. Two personal fouls in a row against Vienna moved the ball 30 yards downfield. And on fourth down from the 2-yard line Wise ran into the endzone for a touchdown. Then RB Florian Grein added the two-point conversion to give the SWARCO Raiders an 8-7 lead with 9:16 minutes left in the second.
After a combined three punts the Tyroleans had one last chance to score before the half. Starting at their own 27 Callahan threw a 14-yard pass to Tarneller. He then completed three more passes to Ebner, Wise and Tarneller. But seconds before the first half was over Callahan's deep pass was intercepted in the endzone by DB Benjamin Bubik. It was Callahan's first interception of the season.
The third quarter started with yet another three straight combined punts. The Vikings finally got things going on their second possession of the second half. Starting at their own 26 Gross threw a 56-yard pass to WR Laurinho Walch on the first play from scrimmage. The Tyrolean defense stopped Vienna after that, but K Sebastian Daum nailed a 29-yard field goal to give his team a 10-8 lead with 4:51 minutes left in the third.
After another three straight punts Vienna regained possession at their own 21 late in the third quarter. A false start penalty on fourth down against the SWARCO Raiders gave Vienna new life. A gift they took full advantage of, because two plays after the penalty Gross threw a screen pass to Thornhill who raced 55 yards for a touchdown. The PAT extended Vienna's lead to 17-8 with 11:09 minutes left in the fourth.
The SWARCO Raiders started their next drive at their own 20 with an 8-yard run by Wise. Then Grein caught a 21-yard pass from Callahan. But although the Tyroleans easily marched into enemy territory, they were once again unable to score. Erlsbacher's punt was downed at the Vikings 2. A 38-yard completion from Gross to Holzinger on third down gave Vienna a fresh set of downs, but after a ferocious sack by LB Philipp Margreiter the Vikings had to punt.
After Wise's return the SWARCO Raiders started at their own 42. Despite two straight false start penalties against the offense the Tyroleans were able to move the chains, thanks to an 11-yard pass from Callahan to Wise and a 15-yard penalty against Vienna. After another 5-yard penalty against the Tyroleans Callahan found Wise for 20 yards. A couple of plays later Callahan threw a 20-yarder to Ebner. And with 1:23 minutes left in the fourth quarter Wise scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. The PAT cut Vienna's lead to 17-15.
But the Vikings recovered the ensuing onside kick to secure their fifth win of the season. Next Saturday the SWARCO Raiders host the JCL Giants Graz. Kickoff at Tivoli Stadium is on April 28 at 5:15 a.m. PT (2:15 p.m. CET).