It was a very exciting Saturday in Innsbruck, where Swarco Raiders Tirol have hosted Dacia Vienna Vikings in the first CEFL Championship semifinals. After demolishing their opposition in the previous round, best two Austrian teams were fighting a tough position battle this time. Defenses were better parts of both teams, making attackers struggle for most of the day. The decision came down in the final quarter and the game was open until the last seconds.
|Swarco Raiders Tirol||6||0||0||14||20||Win|
|Dacia Vienna Vikings||0||6||0||7||13||Loss|
Swarco Raiders run early over their usual linebacker Ruben Seeber and quarterback Sean Shelton, who then throws it short to Romed Zangerle and to Davion Washington for big yards. Rafael Belici motions to the left side overrunning his defender all the way to the end zone where he gets pinpointed by Shelton’s precision pass for a 26 yard touchdown. Point after is no good and the score is 6 – 0.
Dacia Vikings favor running on their first drive. Their signal-caller, Eystin Salum moves the chains by sprinting toward the left sideline. Right after, running back Florian Wegan gains huge 38 yards rushing through the middle to opposing 25. They continue pounding the ball but Tirolean’s defense won’t let them through. On a 4th and 1 play Salum keeps the ball and immediately gets sacked by Nicolas Melcher.
Home team takes over on their own 25, but they aren’t any more successful and opt to punt after 3 and out. When the Viennese get the ball back, Salum tosses a screen pass to Andrew Spencer for 11 yards. On the following play action he‘s sacked again, this time by Lorenzo Deiana. Faced with a 3rd and long Salum looks for his open receivers and gets sacked by Alex Ferrari.
When they have possession of the ball, neither offense can get their gears turning, and teams trade punts in this stretch of the game. Then Raiders have another chance over Zangerle, who rushes for 18 yards over the midfield. However, Shelton can’t connect with his weapons and he punts.
The Vikings take over with their backs to the goal line, when an unnecessary roughness penalty moves them forward. Then a circus catch by Daniel-Elias Schwam down the right sideline with the defender in his grill is good for 34 yards. Salum adds another 12 through the middle, before dialing up Schwam again on a play action for 29 yards. His team can’t move the ball any further but they get on the scoreboard over a Dennis Tasic field goal from 25 yards, 6 – 3.
When Shelton tries to answer he gets rushed and Luis Horvath intercepts his pass. On the same play, an unsportsmanlike contact penalty moves the Vikings half the distance to the goal and places them at the opposing 12 yard line. They reach out to their field general but the Raiders’ defense is impenetrable. Seeber sacks Salum twice on two connecting plays, backing his team off. As the half time whistle blows a 43 yard field goal by Tasic is good to tie the score 6 – 6.
The visitors receive the ball in the third quarter when Salum rushes for 9 yards and then locates Philip Dubravec on a shallow cross route for another 12. The Raiders escape a close call as the same duo can’t link up on a big play when Dubravec gets open in front of the end zone but loses handle on the ball.
Deep in his own backfield, Shelton mounts a coming out offense passing to Marco Schneider and rushing the ball himself. On a 3rd and long pass Spencer gets a pick on the ball and advances it to the rival’s 25 yard line.
His teammates from the offensive unit sputter trying to convert this gift into points. After 3 ineffective plays Tasic’s 41 yard field goal attempt sails wide right too.
Shelton responds with a pitch to Schneider for big yards after catch and then again to the same player for 18 yards. The Raiders can’t budge from there and have to punt.
As the fourth period starts defenses are more productive parts of both teams and neither adversary can do anything significant.
The Vikings are first to break the bad spell even though their drive starts by Maximilian Wild sacking Salum as he juggles the snapped ball. He recoups with a rocket pass to Maurice Wappl for 8 yards. Then Daniel-Elias Schwam gets behind the backs of defenders and Salum airs it out to him for a 75 yard score and the first lead by the Vikings, 6 – 13.
Third time’s the charm for the Raiders when Washington can’t corral a couple of passes first and then grabs on to a deep Shelton rainbow down the middle for 41 yards. Then, on a reverse play, Washington snags a pitch from Zangerle in the backfield and sprints left for a touchdown, 13 – 13.
With 7:35 left on the clock, Salum tries to run but gets strip sacked. Offensive lineman Michael Hinterwirth-Haider recovers the ball before the Raiders’ defenders force a fumble which gets picked up by their linebacker, Ferrari.
This is a huge break for the Raiders as they get the ball on the Vikings’ 30 yard line. Shelton zips it to Toni Rabensteiner for an 8 yard gain. Zangerle picks up the first down rushing through traffic and the ball is at the 16. Then Shelton gets chased out of the pocket and scrambles for another 12 yards before sending a back shoulder throw to Washington at the right corner to take the lead 20 – 13.
Time is 4:29 and the Vikings go back to work on their own 20. Salum completes a pass to Dubravec on a crossing route for 6 yards, and then to Spencer, who slips a shoelace tackle and steps out of bounds at midfield. Next, Salum slings once more to Dubravec, but then Vincent Müller punches the ball out of his hands and Melcher recovers it at the 50.
There’s 3:13 until the end of the game and the Raiders run the clock on two plays. On 3rd down Shelton’s pass gets batted down by Marvin Wappl and the home team punts.
The Vikings’ offense has one last go on their own 20 yard line with 1:40 left. They’re helped by a defensive pass interference and the ball is at their 35. As he scrambles out of the pocket, Salum hits Dubravec for 26 yards getting the ball to the Raiders’ 39 yard line. Spotting a hole in the defense, Salum stretches his legs but Ferrari catches up to him and forces a fumble, and Julian Perfler falls on the ball.
With this hugely important victory the Raiders go to the CEFL Bowl for the fourth straight time. They will be met there by the winner of the second semifinal game played in two weeks, on 13 June by the Calanda Broncos and the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns.