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SWARCO Raiders reach Austrian Bowl


QB John van den Raadt scored two rushing touchdowns (Photo: Schellhorn)

The SWARCO Raiders are back in the Austrian Bowl. The sister-team of The Oakland Raiders have won their Austrian Football League (AFL) playoff semifinal against the Danube Dragons 34-0 (6-0; 7-0; 7-0; 14-0). The Tyroleans have reached the AFL finals for the fifth straight year.

Austrian Bowl XXX takes place on Saturday, July 26 at St. Pölten's NV Arena. The SWARCO Raiders' opponent will be determined on Sunday when the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna host the Prague Black Panthers.

The SWARCO Raiders have beaten the Dragons for the 16th time in 18 games. It also was the ninth win in a row against the team from Vienna. Head coach Shuan Fatah; still unbeaten against the Dragons, was proud: "Everything came together. We play our best football at the right time now. Our gameplan on offense and defense has worked very well and our special teams played a great game, too. I'm very proud of our team".

QB John van den Raadt completed 12 of 16 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown. He also had 8 rushes for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. RB Andreas Hofbauer gained 61 yards on 10 carries and scored a touchdown. WR/K Clemens Erlsbacher caught 4 balls for 58 yards and a touchdown. The defense recorded 5 sacks. DL Korbinian Hoffmann had 1.5 sacks. DL/LB Philipp Margreiter had 2 sacks and blocked a punt. DB Alexander Achammer blocked a field goal and intercepted a pass.

The Dragons won the coin toss and elected to receive. Erlsbacher's kickoff resulted in a touchback. After QB Cary Grossart completed his first two passes he was sacked by Hoffmann and DL Manuel Jovic. But on third and long he found WR Thomas Haider at the opposing 38. A few plays later K Martin Wunderer came on for a 49-yard try, but his kick went wide right. The SWARCO Raiders started their first drive at their 31. Van den Raadt found WR Julian Ebner for 17 yards. Next WR Damaso Tarneller caught a pass at the opposing 40 for a first down. Then van den Raadt rushed for 11 yards. Moments later he found Erlsbacher for 25 yards. Hofbauer then finished the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run. The PAT was no good, giving the SWARCO Raiders a 6-0 lead with 3:26 minutes left in the first quarter.

Erlsbacher's kickoff resulted again in a touchback. Starting at their 25 the Dragons began with a 9-yard pass from Grossart to WR Johannes Prammer. Later Hoffman recorded another sack. Grossart had the right answer when he found Haider at the Tyrolean 41. Next Grossart ran for 9 yards. A 7-yard pass to WR Georg Pongratz gave the Dragons a fresh set of downs at the 34. Then Grossart ran 14 yards. That play was followed by a sack by DL Philipp Popp. A few plays later Wunderer came on for a 34-yard field goal try, but the kick was blocked by Achammer.

The SWARCO Raiders took over at their 20. On the first play from scrimmage van den Raadt found Tarneller for 15 yards. On the next play a botched handoff cost the team 5 yards, but on the next play Hofbauer caught an 11-yard pass. Van den Raadt then ran 6 yards for a new first down. Next up was a 16-yard run by Hofbauer. Erlsbacher then caught a 14-yard pass. Hofbauer ran to the opposing 12. From there van den Raadt danced his way through the defense into the endzone. Erlsbacher added the extra point for a 13-0 SWARCO Raiders lead. 4:35 minutes were left in the second quarter.

The kickoff resulted in a touchback. The Dragons started with a 5-yard run by RB Dominik Kecskemeti. Pongratz then caught a 6-yard pass. Escaping the pass rush Grossart ran 21 yards. A 5-yard pass to Haider on fourth down gave the Dragons a new first down at the Tyrolean 28. Prammer then caught a 12-yard pass. A penalty against the Tyroleans moved the ball even closer to the goalline. But again the Dragons came away empty as Wunderer's 27-yard field goal try went wide left. Despite having the ball for only 6:53 minutes in the first two quarters the SWARCO Raiders had a 13-0 halftime lead.

The third quarter started with DB Enrico Martini's kickoff return to the 21. Van den Raadt ran for 12 yards and 11 yards, but a few plays later the Tyroleans had to punt. The Dragons first possession of the third quarter also ended with a punt. P Stefan Knaller's kick was partially blocked by Margreiter. LB Florian Hueter picked up the ball, but fumbled on the return. Achammer then recovered. A penalty moved the ball even closer to the endzone, giving the SWARCO Raiders the ball at the Dragons 14. From there van den Raadt found Erlsbacher in the endzone on the first play from scrimmage. The receiver then added the PAT to give his team a 20-0 lead with 5:56 minutes left in the third.

A touchback on the kickoff gave the Dragons the ball at their 25. A penalty on third down negated a long touchdown pass. On fourth down Grossart found Pongratz at the 36. After a 9-yard pass to Haider Grossart was sacked by Margreiter. But again the quarterback found Pongratz on fourth down. But when the Dragons entered SWARCO Raiders territory Grossart's next fourth down pass fell incomplete.

The Tyroleans took over at their 31. A penalty moved the ball back to the 14, but Hofbauer gained 18 yards on the next play. Then van den Raadt ran 14 yards. Erlsbacher caught a 10-yard pass. A penalty gave the SWARCO Raiders a fresh set of downs at the opposing 37. WR Christian Willi then caught a 10-yarder. Moments later van den Raadt again danced through the defense for a 16-yard touchdown run. Erlsbacher's eytra point gave the Tyroleans a 27-0 lead with 7:51 minutes left in the fourth.

DB Matthias Rebl returned the ensuing kickoff to the Dragons 43. On the first play from scrimmage Margreiter sacked Grossart. Two completions moved the ball close to the first down marker. But on fourth down the defense batted down Grossart's pass and the SWARCO Raiders took over at their 49. RB Lukas Miribung entered the game and ran 16 yards on his first carry. He and RB Filip Vlajic kept moving the chains. A penalty gave the SWARCO Raiders a first down at the 9. Van den Raadt then faked a run before pitching the ball to WR Gregor Hofmann. The young wide-out ran into the endzone for his first career touchdown. DL/K Martin Wetzel added the PAT to give the SWARCO Raiders a 34-0 lead with 3:22 minutes left.

The Dragons tried to get some points on the scoreboard, but Achammer ended that hope with an interception.

On Saturday, July 26 the SWARCO Raiders play in Austrian Bowl XXX. Kickoff at St. Pölten's NV Arena is at 10:00 a.m. PT (7:00 p.m. CET).

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