SWARCO Raiders Start Season in Style

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RB Tory Cooper ran for 180 yards and 2 TDs in the SWARCO Raiders 2010 opener.

The SWARCO Raiders, marketing teammate of The Oakland Raiders, maintained their dominance against the Carinthian Black Lions. On Sunday they opened the new Austrian Football League (AFL) season with their sixth win in six meetings, beating the Carinthians 41-7 (0-7; 21-0; 14-0; 6-0) on the road.

With the reigning Eurobowl champions wondering about the team identity, head coach Santos Carrillo gave his four new import players every chance to shine. RB Tory Cooper opened eyes with his performance. The former Citadel standout ran for 180 yards and two touchdowns on only 14 carries. QB Leon Jackson III overcame some early butterflies and finished the day with 15 completions on 21 pass attempts for 196 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. On defense DE Michael Dawodu and DT Marquay Love led a group that held the Black Lions and their mobile QB D.J. Hernandez to 47 rushing yards and only five first downs.

"It was a typical first game. We started off real slow and finally found our rhythm in the second quarter," said SWARCO Raiders head coach Santos Carrillo. "Tory Cooper ran really well. The line opened him some big holes, but he also ran through some tackles. Leon Jackson also came through and overall our import guys did as expected. But of course we still have a lot of things to do."

As the second-year head coach mentioned, the SWARCO Raiders started sloppy. On their first possession they marched inside the opposing 30-yard line, before Black Lions DE Robert Trasolini picked off a Jackson pass behind the line of scrimmage and returned it to the Carinthian's 40. While the offense was still looking for its rhythm, the Tyrolean defense was already making plays. After forcing a three and out on the game's very first drive, they forced a turnover on the Black Lions second possession. DB Martin Breitsching intercepted a Hernandez pass at the Raiders 40.

But on the next Carinthian drive, the SWARCO Raiders defense also showed some off-season rust. Put under heavy pressure in his own end zone, Hernandez threw a long ball up for grabs. Two Tyrolean defenders misjudged the ball and WR Markus Pachernig was gone for an 80-yard touchdown catch and run. After the PAT the Black Lions were up 7-0 with two minutes left in the first quarter.

After punts on both sides the SWARCO Raiders offense finally came to life. Jackson started the team's fourth possession from their own 45 with a scramble to the Black Lions 28-yard line. Two plays later he found a wide open WR Andreas Pröller for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Seventeen-year old SWARCO Raiders junior team talent Clemens Erlsbacher added the extra point to tie the game with about eight minutes left in the second quarter.

The Carinthians gambled on their next drive, going for it on 4th and 9 from their own 31. Nineteen-year old CB Lemay Maqueira played like a veteran and defended the pass to give the SWARCO Raiders the ball in great field position. The offense moved the ball on the ground, but finished the drive through the air with Jackson throwing an 11-yard touchdown pass to WR Philipp Heider, one of six Germans on the SWARCO Raiders roster. After the extra point the Tyroleans were up 14-7 with 3:30 minutes left in the second quarter.

After a Black Lions punt the SWARCO Raiders got the ball back at their own 19 with time running out in the first half. Jackson hit WR Jakob Dieplinger for nine yards and then found him for a gain of 49 yards. Pröller then caught a 5-yarder and Jackson ended the drive six seconds before halftime with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dieplinger, who finished the game with 7 catches for 129 yards and one score. Erlsbacher nailed the extra point to make it 21-7.

After a slow start to the second half, the SWARCO Raiders extended their lead on their second possession of the third quarter. On first down at their own 27 Cooper broke loose for a 58-yard gain to the Black Lions 7. Two plays later the running back scored up the middle from one yard out. The extra point made it 28-7 in favor of the SWARCO Raiders with three minutes left in the third.

"The surface today was a little muddy, but I think I moved the ball well. I made a lot of yards in between the tackles," explained Cooper. "But I also believe we had a slow start and need to work on many things."

The defense forced another Black Lions punt, but unfortunately for the Carinthians the Tyrolean offense wasn't done. After a short run by Cooper on first down from their own 26 and a 10-yard completion to Heider, Cooper found another huge hole and ran up the middle for a 49-yard touchdown with the very last play of the third quarter. Erlsbacher added the extra point to extend the lead to 35-7.

On their next possession the Black Lions were hoping for another score as they have never put up more than 12 points against the SWARCO Raiders in their previous five AFL meetings. But a promising drive ended with a turnover on downs at the Tyroleans 3-yard line.

The SWARCO Raiders were running out the clock, but had one more electrifying moment through the air midway through the fourth quarter. With the Carinthians expecting another run on first down from their own 23, Jackson found Dieplinger yet again, this time for a 52-yard gain. A defensive pass interference call on the next play gave the SWARCO Raiders a first and goal. RB Florian Grein, who was rested most of the afternoon, scored the game's final touchdown from 4 yards out. The extra point was blocked. With less than six minutes left, the Tyroleans were up 41-7.

With their second unit on the field on defense and many youngsters – including 20-year old QB Damaso Tarneller and 17-year old RB Andreas Hofbauer – playing on offense in the final minutes, the SWARCO Raiders were able to run out the clock.

Due to the Easter holiday the SWARCO Raiders have a bye next weekend. They will play their first home game of the 2010 season on April 10, hosting new league member Collectpoint Prague Panthers. Kickoff is at 6 a.m. PT (3 p.m. CET).

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