Team Austria used a three-touchdown, fourth quarter explosion to surge ahead and defeat Team Denmark 40-15 to win the opening game of the 2018 IFAF European Championship tournament in Vantaa, Finland.
The Austrians had watched a feisty Danish squad keep battling back closing a 20-7 gap to 20-15 late in the third quarter. But three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter were the difference.
Austrian quarterback Alexander Thury was named MVP for his team and rightly so after completing 20 of 27 passes for 195 yards and rushing for another 91 and two touchdowns.Running back Sandro Platzgummer rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns while Dominik Mattes had three carries for 39 yards and Tobias Bonatti had 36 yards rushing and a touchdown as well. Thomas Pichlmann kicked four extra points.
For Denmark, Jakob Karkov threw for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both to Aske Troen Klixbüll who caught seven passes for 46 yards. Thomas Mikkel Ashworth had 108 yards receiving on five catches. But Denmark could not establish a running game with a total of 32 yards rushing with starting running back Lasse Lykke held to only 14 yards for the game.
Neither team could gain any momentum in the first quarter and it took the powerful Austrians until the 10 minute mark of the second quarter to find the end zone. Thury engineered an eight yard, 80 yard drive with Platzgummer carrying the ball in from the five yard line and Austria led 7-0.
Denmark responded as Karkov marched the team from their own 20 yard line capping the drive with a two yard pass to Klixbüll to even the score at 7-7.
Thury was beginning to find his rhythm and took the Austrian offense from the 35 yard line down to the Danish 14 yard line. Bonatti found a seam and scored to retake the lead for Austria, 14-7 at the break.
With Austria’s defense stepping up in the third quarter, the offense began to feel more comfortable with Thury mixing up his play calling, driving from his own 23 yard line and then handing the ball off to Platzgummer who found a hole, cut back and raced 26 yards to extend the lead to 20-7.
Denmark was not done though. Karkov completed four of five passes finding Klixbüll from nine yards out to narrow the lead to 20-13. The Danes then scored on the two-point conversion attempt and heading into the fourth, Austria was clinging to a 20-15 lead.
However, the Austrian offense kicked into another gear with Thury finishing another 80 yard drive, this time calling his own number on an 11 yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 27-15.
That seemed to suck the energy from the Danes as a fourth down attempt at their own 37 yard line failed and Austria took over in great field position. Two plays later, Mattes rambled in from the 29 yard line and suddenly the score was 34-15 with eight minutes left.
Nothing was working for Team Denmark as the Austrian defense imposed its will and the offense was able to move the ball easily This time it took Austria just four plays to advance 64 yards as Thury scored his second touchdown of the game, scampering 33 yards for the final score of the game.
Denmark will now face Team Sweden on Tuesday, July 31 while Austria takes on the Swedes on Thursday, August 2.