|Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns||0||14||14||7||35||Win|
Second semifinal game of the CEFL Championship was played on Sunday between Calanda Broncos and the visiting Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. The Broncos were equal partners until the intermission, leaving for the half time break with the score tied. However, they lost focus in the 3rd quarter and early in the 4th, when the Unicorns have scored 3 unanswered touchdowns. The home team had a late surge but there was no time left for a comeback.
The Broncos open the game with a balanced offense. Erik Rageth and Steffen Haenelt move the chains over the ground and Conner Manning connects with Severin Murk and Maxwell Gray. Their attack is unstoppable as Haenelt breaks through the defense to the Unicorns’ 5 yard line and then rumbles into the end zone. Point after is good and the score is 7-0.
Yannick Mayr returns the ensuing kickoff near midfield. German quarterback, Alexander Haupert connects with his favorite targets, Mayr and Moritz Böhringer. Joshua Haas catches another one for the first down on a play action. Even though a penalty backs them off, the Unicorns try for the fourth down and fail to convert.
Nevertheless, home team’s offensive leader shoots the next pass right into the hands of linebacker Patryk Bigus and the Unicorns get the ball back on the Broncos 33 yard line.
Running back John Santiago is good for 15 yards on a couple of rushes. On 3rd down Haupert throws it into the end zone as he’s hit, but Mayr is well protected. On 4th down the target is Böhringer but the ball sails over his head.
As the Broncos take over Manning rushes for a first down and Adrian Sünderhauf gets one more on an end around. Rageth adds 6 in his own production and the ball is on the Unicorns’ 35 yard line. A 15 yard penalty spoils their efforts and they have to punt.
The ball is at midfield when the Unicorns take charge. Mayr corrals a pass for a huge gain and the ball is at the Broncos’ 15 yard line. Following another penalty, a tiptoe catch on the left sideline by Aurieus Minton puts the ball at the Broncos’ 10. Böhringer is overthrown again on 4th down, leading to another turnover on downs.
The Broncos’ Manning and Murk connect to get ahead of the chains but the team can’t advance any further and they send it over to the opposing 26 yard line.
A costly penalty against the Swiss defense advances the Unicorns. Mayr is good for big yards after catch, and Minton leaps for another, close to the Broncos’ goal line. Haupert sneaks in for his team’s first points but the kick sails wide left after a high snap. The gap is closed to 7-6.
The visitors’ defensive unit is energized by their teammates’ success and puts the ball back at their hands by stopping the Broncos on all three downs.
On a long pass Mayr is left unchecked in the backfield but he loses handle on the ball in stride. Haupert shoots another rainbow to Mayr who’s alone in the backfield once again and this time he delivers. Unicorns’ lead for the first time as Böhringer hauls it in on a 2 point conversion for 7-14.
After they receive the ball, the Broncos offense won’t be denied. Haenelt gains 19 yards on two rushes and Rageth continues to the Unicorns’ 40. Murk moves the chains with another catch. Then Manning plays a flea flicker with Gray and lobs it to Sünderhauf in the end zone to tie the score at 14-14.
Before the intermission there’s still time for Haupert to try a hail Mary pass to Leon Friebel, but the ball is intercepted by Gray.
The Unicorns start off the second period on their own 25 yards. Santiago turns on the jets on three consecutive plays and advances to the Broncos’ 25. Jannis Fiedler runs ahead of the chains once more before the penalty backs his team off. Mayr moves them closer with a big boost after catch and then Santiago misses a few tacklers and weaves into the end zone for 14-21.
The Broncos start the next drive deep in their backfield. Manning shoots it to Murk for first down but they can’t budge from their 38 yard line and the fourth down conversion flops.
From this great field position Fiedler and Santiago carry the rock to secure 4 more attempts for their team before Böhringer rushes for an 8 yards score on a jet sweep down the right sideline for 14-28.
On the next drive by the Broncos Haenelt rushes for double digits but that’s not enough. Broncos again try to convert the 4th down from their own 47 yards but Manning is hit as he releases the football.
The visiting team starts on the short field once more. Haupert dials up Böhringer’s number and he takes off for big yardage. Fiedler rushes repeatedly to get within the end zone and from there he scampers toward the left pylon and punches in for 14-35.
With 9 minutes left on the clock attacking units seem to power down early and defenses are better parts of both teams. Offenses take turns and get quickly dispatched after 3 and outs mostly.
After 3 fruitless drives by either team there are 94 more seconds still to play and the Broncos are up one last time. They take to the field on their own 33 yard line. Murk grabs a 9 yard pass first and then gets behind the backs of his defenders. Manning spots him alone in coverage and hits him up on the left sideline to end the scoring session at 21-35.
Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns have notched up a W in their first appearance in the CEFL Championship right in the semifinals. They will take it up against the Swarco Raiders Tirol in the CEFL Bowl XV on 26 June. We’ll see if the German team can overwhelm the neighboring three-time champions when it counts the most.