SWARCO Raiders win overtime thriller to reach Austrian Bowl


QB Leon Jackson III scored six total touchdowns (Schellhorn)

The SWARCO Raiders, marketing teammate of The Oakland Raiders, won one of the most dramatic games in Austrian Football League history and advanced to Austrian Bowl XXVI. The Tyroleans beat the Turek Graz Giants 58-51 (16-7; 6-17; 15-7; 7-13; 14-7) in double-overtime in the AFL semifinals. In the very first Austrian championship game held in Innsbruck they now play the Danube Dragons on July 9. The Dragons won the second semifinal, beating the Raiffeisen Vikings Vienna 31-24.

The 3,000 people in attendance at Tivoli Stadium saw a game in which the SWARCO Raiders special teams and defense made the difference in the contest's two most important moments. With 12 seconds left DT Marquay Love partially blocked an extra point to send the game into OT. And in the second overtime CB Lemay Maqueira picked off a pass from Giants QB Chris Gunn to win the game. It was Gunn's first interception of the 2010 AFL season.

"It was an incredible and dramatic game," said SWARCO Raiders head coach Santos Carrillo after his team reached the Austrian Bowl for the seventh time in team history. "The guys had a great week of practice and I wanted them to have fun out there and play within themselves. I knew it would come down to one or two plays. And that's exactly what happened."

QB Leon Jackson III's six touchdown performance earned him the honor of game MVP. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 216 yards and threw 5 touchdowns. Jackson also ran the ball 12 times for 79 yards and another score. RB Tory Cooper had 31 rushes for 150 yards and a touchdown. WR Philipp Heider caught 5 balls for 75 yards and two touchdowns. WR Andreas Pröller caught 4 balls for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

The game could not have started any better for the SWARCO Raiders. On the second play from scrimmage Love forced Gunn to fumble and DE Reinhard Pardeller recovered the ball at the Giants 41. The Tyrolean offense started fast. Jackson faked a hand-off to Cooper, and then ran to the 15. On the very next play Cooper danced his way through the Giants defense down the right sideline into the endzone. The PAT failed, but the SWARCO Raiders were up 6-0 with 10:51 left in the first.

Starting their second drive at their own 42, Graz moved the ball quickly. Gunn ran the ball twice and after an incomplete pass he took off for a 37-yard touchdown run. After the extra point Graz was up 7-6 with 9:11 left in the first.

The Tyroleans started their second series at their own 42 with three straight runs by Cooper for 8, 9 and 7 yards. A penalty against the Giants gave the home site a first down at the opposing 15. The drive ended with an 18-yard field goal by K Robert Balazinec. With 4:56 left in the first quarter the SWARCO Raiders were up 9-7.

After LB Philipp Margreiter and Love stopped the Giants for loss, Graz had to punt. But Margreiter came up with another great play, blocking the kick. S Markus Krause recovered the ball and ran it back 20 yards for a score. After the PAT the SWARCO Raiders led 16-7 with 3:33 left in the first.

Graz then started at their own 32. And thanks to Gunn and RB Michael Andrew they moved quickly to the opposing 10-yard line. Gunn finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR Armando Ponce de Leon. After the PAT the SWARCO Raiders' lead was down to 16-14 with 8:09 left in the second.

The Tyroleans next drive ended with a blocked field goal. Graz took over at their own 17 and Gunn started with passes to WR Klaus Geier for 25 and 14 yards. Then he ran the ball twice, before throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ponce de Leon. The PAT gave Graz a 21-16 lead with 1:38 left in the second.

The SWARCO Raiders answered before the break, starting at their own 39. After a Cooper run and a 5-yard catch by RB Florian Grein, Jackson ran to the Graz 38. A penalty against Graz gave the Tyroleans a first down at the 28. Jackson then had all the time in the world to find Pröller wide-open for a 28-yard touchdown pass. The PAT failed, but the SWARCO Raiders regained the lead, going up 22-21 with 16 seconds left in the half.

Graz wasn't done, yet. DB Devon Hughes returned the following kickoff to the Tyroleans 28. A penalty moved the ball to the 23. K Christoph Kipperer nailed a 40-yard field goal to give the Giants a 24-22 halftime lead.

The home site started the second half's opening drive at their own 34. On second down Cooper found a hole and ran up the middle to the Graz 43. A little later Heider caught a 15-yarder. Cooper added 14 yards on the ground. Jackson finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to WR Jakob Dieplinger. The extra point was good and the SWARCO Raiders took the lead again. They were up 28-24 with 8:19 left in the third.

Another good kickoff return by Hughes gave Graz a first down at the opposing 37. But after two incomplete passes and a short run the drive ended, when Margreiter sacked Gunn on fourth down. Starting at their own 42, Jackson threw a 15-yarder to Pröller. After two short Cooper runs, Heider caught a short pass from Jackson and paced down the sideline for a 36-yard touchdown. Jackson ran into the endzone for a successful two-point conversion to extend the SWARCO Raiders' lead to 37-24 with 5:25 left in the third.

Starting at their own 38 Gunn opened Graz's next possession with a pass to Geier and a run to the Tyroleans 27. On fourth down from the 21 Gunn found WR Christian Kranz at the 13. The quarterback finally finished the drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Kranz. After the PAT the score was 37-31 in favor of the SWARCO Raiders. 2:32 were left in the third quarter.

The Tyroleans next drive began at the 13-yard line. Cooper started with runs of 23 and 4 yards. A short run by Jackson and an 11-yard pass to Grein gave the SWARCO Raiders a new first down at the opposing 41. Cooper added 11 yards and two straight Graz penalties gave the home team a first down at the 2. A penalty cost the SWARCO Raiders 5 yards, but Jackson answered with a run to the Graz 4 and a 4-yard touchdown pass to Heider. Balazinec added the extra point to give the SWARCO Raiders a 44-31 lead with 9:11 left in the fourth quarter.

On first down from their own 45 Gunn found Ponce de Leon at the Tyroleans 37. And after two straight incomplete passes the quarterback threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to WR Wolfrum Hofbauer. The extra point cut the SWARCO Raiders lead to 44-38 with 7:59 left in the fourth.

The Tyroleans weren't able to score on their next drive and punted. Jackson's punt was downed at the Graz 8. Gunn started with passes to Geier for 13 and 16 yards. A completion to Ponce de Leon and a penalty against the SWARCO Raiders gave Graz a first down at the Tyroleans 15. The drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Gunn to Kranz. The extra point would have given the Giants the lead, but Love got his hands on the ball and the kick sailed wide left. With the score tied at 44-44 the game went into overtime.

After an offside penalty against the SWARCO Raiders, Graz scored on the first play from scrimmage. Gunn threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kranz. The PAT gave the Giants a 51-44 lead.

They Tyroleans started their first overtime possession with two Cooper rushes, but a bad snap on the drive's third play cost them 20 yards. Jackson answered with a 21-yard pass to Cooper. Then Cooper ran for a few yards and on fourth down Jackson found Grein for an 8-yard gain and a new first down. Jackson finally finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. K Clemens Erlsbacher added the extra point to tie the game at 51-51.

The SWARCO Raiders offense stayed on the field, but was backed up by a holding penalty. Again they fought adversity. A cooper run and two straight 10-yard passes to Heider kept the drive alive. Another penalty negated a touchdown run by Jackson, but the quarterback answered a little later, throwing a 15-yard strike into the endzone to Pröller. Erlsbacher's PAT gave the SWARCO Raiders a 58-51 lead in the second OT.

Gunn opened the Giants second overtime possession with a run to the Tyroleans 16. After an incomplete pass and a 2-yard run by Gunn, Graz faced a critical third down. Being pressured by the defense Gunn threw the ball towards the endzone, but Maqueira was there to pick off the pass and end the game.

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