The long years of waiting and frustration are finally over. Ljubljana Silverhawks beat the SBB Vukovi Belgrade on Saturday 21-34 and won their first CEFL championship.
The Silverhawks set the tone of the game on the first Vukovi drive, when they forced the fumble on their 40 yard line. On the ensuing drive Anthony Gardner found Bojan Justin for the first touchdown of the game. Gardner was a hero again just minutes later, he broke the plate with the QB sneak on the 4th down.
Vukovi looked totaly lost, but they found a spark with a 85-yard touchdown pass in the middle of the second quarter. Silverhawks replied in a heartbeat, Gardner pass on the 4th down for 13 yards to Jan Jakus made it 6-20.
The first minutes of the second half didn’t go as good for Ljubljana. After some penalties they were practically in their own endzone, but then Gardner found Rok Štamcar on the critical 3rd down and the Blue machine started rolling again. Another pass to Štamcar made it 6-28 and on the next drive Gardner found Justin again and the score was 6-34.
Almost 50 Silverhawks fans began to celebrate, but Kriesien and the Vukovi had other plans. The tired Silverhawks defense — they lost Milan Narat and Peter Namorš Vujinović — conceded two fast touchdowns and after successful onside kick it looked like the momentum will turn in Belgrade’s favour. But the referees threw a flag for offside and the Vukovi head coach Sean Embree got a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Silverhawks got the ball back on their 20 yard line and after a couple of first downs in was time for their first celebration in CEFL finals.
The Silverhawks completed a long journey from 2006 to now. During the first couple of years, there were many that could be called the best teams in the league — but the Silverhawks were not among them. The change that started a couple years ago, including a bowl appearance in 2010 is now complete, as they crowned what was without a doubt their best season to date.
As for the Vukovi, the champions of the last three seasons are champions no more. Their home field, that held strong since the 2007 season finally fell. But despite the loss, and the fact that they’re used to only winning, another strong year is behind them.
It’s been a long time coming, but we can finally say something a little bit different: until next year, the Ljubljana Silverhawks are the champions.