In returning to their past, the SWARCO Raiders, sister-team of The Oakland Raiders, took a step towards defending their Eurobowl crown. Playing at Alpenstadion Wattens for the first time since the 2008 season Tyroelans defeated the Prague Panthers 56-14 (21-0; 21-7; 14-7; 0-0) in the European Football League (EFL) quarterfinals.
With 56 points scored and a 42 point differential the Tyroleans tied two team records for games played in the EFL. They will now face the Calanda Broncos from Switzerland in the EFL semifinals. The game will be played on June 16 or 17 with the home-site yet to be determined. The Broncos won their quarterfinal matchup 19-14 against the JCL Graz Giants.
The Tyroleans played at Wattens, because the grass at Innsbruck's Tivoli Stadium will be replaced. The last time the team played at Alpenstadion was during the 2008 season. Back then they played four games in Wattens and won four times. With victories over the Coventry Jets (49-20) and the Giants (56-49) the SWARCO Raiders set the course for their first ever Eurobowl championship.
Just like in 2008 they felt right at home - especially WR Talib Wise. Playing only in his third game of the season and playing in front of his mother who came all the way from Chicago Wise scored a total of four touchdowns - all in the first half. He caught 3 balls for 38 yards and a score. He had 2 rushes for 11 yards and 2 touchdowns and he returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown.
"This was definitely a special game for me. My mother hasn't seen me play live since my college days", said Wise. "But it wasn't me alone who played well. The whole team played great today".
SWARCO Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah associated himself with Wise's comments, saying: "I'm very satisfied. We were dominating, especially in the first half. We are super strong when all our imports are in the game".
QB Kyle Callahan completed 13 of 17 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown. He also ran 7 times for 28 yards and a score. RB Lukas Miribung had 12 rushes for 139 yards and a touchdown. The defense forced a fumble and allowed only 156 total yards.
After the Panthers kicked off to start the game Wise returned the ball to the Tyrolean 33. Moments later he caught a 13-yard pass from Callahan. Then WR Julian Ebner hauled in a 14-yard pass. Later RB Andreas Hofbauer rushed 8 yards to the opposing 14. Callahan finished the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Wise. WR Clemens Erlsbacher kicked the extra point to give the SWARCO Raiders a 7-0 lead with 10:06 minutes left in the first.
Prague's first drive started at their own 20 and ended with a three-and-out when LB Chris James sacked QB Justin Walz. After the punt the Tyroleans took over at their 21. The drive started with an 8-yard pass from Callahan to Ebner. RB Florian Grein then rushed for 6 yards. Callahan then completed passes to WR Andreas Pröller for 18 yards, to Wise for 12 yards and to Grein for 20 yards. The drive ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Hofbauer. The PAT gave the Tyroleans a 14-0 lead with 6:18 minutes left in the first.
The team from the Czech Republic had to punt again on their second possession, giving the SWARCO Raiders the ball back at the Tyrolean 16. Hofbauer opened the drive with a 9-yard run. Later Pröller caught a 7-yard pass and WR Christian Willi caught an 8-yarder. Then Callahan threw an 20-yard pass to WR Damaso Tarneller. Callahan then ran and pitched to Wise, who was pushed out of bounds at the Panthers 3. Moments later the same combo combined for a 3-yard touchdown run. The PAT by K Dennis Wiehberg gave the SWARCO Raiders a 21-0 lead with three seconds left in the first.
Prague's next possession ended with another three-and-out after James' second sack. Wise returned the punt to the opposing 24. After a penalty moved the ball backwards runs by Callahan and Grein gained 15 yards total. A personal foul against Prague gave the Tyroleans a first down at the Panthers 10. Moments later Callahan scored on a 4-yard touchdown run. The PAT gave the SWARCO Raiders a 28-0 lead. 8:23 minutes were left to play in the second.
The Panthers didn't find an answer and punted yet again. The Tyrolean offense started at their own 37 with two 12-yard runs by Miribung. Callahan then found TE Matthias Mayr for 17 yards and Erlsbacher for 15 yards. Wise finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. The PAT extended the lead to 35-0 with 4:06 minutes left in the second.
Starting their next drive at their own 20-yard line RB Amos Allen broke free for a gain of 30 yards. Later Walz found WR Jan Stiegler for a first down at the opposing 23. On the next play Walz threw a short pass to Allen, who ran 23 yards for a touchdown. The PAT cut the SWARCO Raiders lead to 35-7 with 2:36 minutes left in the first half.
But it was only a matter of seconds until the Tyroleans scored again. Wise returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a score. With the PAT the SWARCO Raiders were up 42-7 with 2:22 minutes left in the second quarter.
The second half started with a Panthers drive. Starting at their own 20 a 15-yard pass from Walz to WR Jakub Wolesky gained 15 yards. Another catch by Wolesky and two penalties by the Tyroleans moved the ball to the opposing 16. Moments later Allen scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. The PAT cut the SWARCO Raiders lead to 42-14 with 6:05 minutes left in the third.
The SWARCO Raiders began their first possession of the third quarter at their own 33. 16-year old QB Adrian Platzgummer was in the game now. On the drive's first play Miribung ran to the Panthers 31. Platzgummer then threw an 8-yard pass to Willi. On the next play Miribung scored on a 23-yard run. The PAT extended the lead to 49-14. 4:52 minutes were left to play in the third.
WR Jan Dundacek then returned the ensuing kickoff to the opposing 25. A penalty against the Tyroleans gave Prague a first down at 13. But on the drive's first play Walz fumbled the ball and DL Bene Brugnara recovered the ball at the 19. Platzgummer opened the drive with a 15-yard run and passes to Ebner and Willi moved the ball to the Panthers 41. Two rushes by Miribung gained 20 yards. Grein finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run. After the PAT the score was 56-14 with 1:27 minutes left in the third.
Next weekend the SWARCO Raiders will play their second to last regular season game in the Austrian Football League (AFL) as they travel to Vienna to face the Danube Dragons on Saturday, June 2.