Austria: Danube Dragons knock off Graz Giants, advance to semifinals

The Danube Dragons pulled off a minor upset and knocked off the Graz Giants 28-21 in a wild card playoff game at ASKÖ Stadion Eggenberg in Graz, Austria, to advance to the Austrian semifinals.

This was a game the Giants were expected to win, in their home park. But Danube took a first half lead and held on during a thrilling back and forth second half for the win.

Graz had beaten the Dragons twice during the regular season but faced stiff resistance in the second game, so this was not as surprising as many thought. The game was tied twice in the second half with Danube managing to pull ahead both times.

Quarterback Dylan Potts was superb as usual. The league’s rushing leader and fifth leading passer threw for 249 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 89 yards scoring another touchdown. Giants receiver Reinhard Knaus caught three passes for 107 yards and a touchdown and kicked all four PATs.. Matthias Rebl and Philipp Haun also caught touchdown passes for Danube

Graz quarterback Brandon Gorsuch had a dismal afternoon completing just five of 12 passes for 37 yards but running back Alexander Sanz was outstanding for the Giants rushing for 125 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Matthias Kiergerl also ran for a touchdown. Mario Greil kicked two field goals and two extra points while Daniel Schönet scored on a two-point conversion.

Danube WR Reinhard Knaus diving for yardage as Matthias Rebl looks on Photo:© 2017 Stefan Wilfinger http://photowilfinger.at/

The Giants opened the scoring in the first quarter on a Greil field goal following a brilliant punt return by Blake O’Neal. Two possessions later, Dylan Potts scored on a five yard run following a muffed punt by Giants punter Mario Greil and Danube took the lead 7-3 which they held into halftime.

Another Giants miscue, this time early in the third quarter, a fumble in their own end, gave Danube the ball in good field position again. Potts engineered a six play, 45 yard drive capping it with a touchdown pass to Rebl and the Dragons extended their lead to 14-3.

Again a Graz drive stalled, this time on the Danube 12 yard line and Greil kicked a 29 yard field goal to pull to 14-6.

Anton Pscheider picked off a Potts pass at the Dragons 33 yard line and five plays later Sanz scored and with the two-point conversion, Grazi tied the game at 14-14.

Early in the fourth quarter, after the Giants turned the ball over on downs at their own 34 yard line, Potts made them pay finding Haun for a 12 yard touchdown and Danube retook the lead 21-14.

Another brilliant Blake O’Neal punt return gave the Giants offense the ball on Danube’s 10 yard line and Kiegerl took advantage, scoring on the next play and the teams were tied again 21-21, with less than five minutes remaining.

Danube wasted no time, however, as two plays later, Potts connected with Knaus for a 78 yard touchdown catch and run and then the defense did the rest as the Dragons held on for the 28-21 win and a date with the Dacia Vienna Vikings next weekend.

In the other wild card playoff game, the Ljubljana Silverhawks easily defeated the Mödling Rangers 49-20. The Silverhawks will face the Swarco Raiders in the other semifinal.

 

 

 

AFI
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