Amsterdam Crusaders reach 2nd straight BNL final after wild comeback against Limburg Shotguns

The Amsterdam Crusaders have reached the final of the BNL league after a dramatic come-from-behind 28-20 semifinal victory over the Limburg Shotguns at Sportpark Sloten in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam trailed 20-12 after three quarters before staging a dramatic fourth quarter rally.

With the win, the defending BNL champion Crusaders advance to the BNL championship game on July 1 when they will face the Brussels Black Angels.

The end of the game was definitely dramatic.

With just over two minutes left on the clock and the game tied at 20-20, the Crusaders found themselves deep in their own territory, on the 20-yard line. Everyone in the stadium was thinking overtime.

Amsterdam RB Berto Stuijt #23 Photo: Sandra Ruhe

Two plays later, quarterback Jasper Nijland calmly stepped back and heaved the ball downfield to a streaking Melvin Maasdamme who had got in behind the Limburg secondary and after shaking off one defender he took it all the way for the go ahead touchdown. Running back Berto Stuijt battled his way into the end zone for the two point conversion, effectively putting the game out of reach.

The Crusaders had entered the fourth quarter trailing Limburg 20-12 after giving up two straight third quarter touchdowns to the Shotguns which erased a 12-7 halftime lead. Then, on a third and one from the 37 yard line, Nijland found Dylan Bakker with a dump pass over the middle and the big tight end rumbled all the way down to the Limburg 18 yard line, weaving his way through traffic, shedding tacklers along the way. Although Limburg halted the drive with a goalline pick, they could not move the ball and after a weak punt the Crusaders got the ball back on the 35. Nijland wasted no time connecting with Sem de Haan who fought off two tacklers before finding the end zone. Baaker scored the two point conversion to tie the game up and lead to the late game dramatics.

The game was definitely a see saw battle with both teams taking control and various points.

The Shotguns opened the scoring midway through the second quarter as running back Cian Borra punched the ball in from the one yard line after Limburg had recovered a fumbled punt return. Then on the next possession, Nijland capped an 80 yard drive (helped by two major penalties) with a 16 yard scoring pass to Maasdamme to narrow the lead to 7-6.

Amsterdam found the end zone again before the half after Stuijt scampered in from the five yard line to cap a five play, 67 yard drive to give the Crusaders a 12-7 lead at the half.

The third quarter looked completely different.

Shotguns QB Coberean Olieslagers #9 Photo: Bob de Calonne

First, Limburg picked off an errant Nijland’s pass at the Amsterdam 17 yard line. Shotguns quarterback Coberean Olieslagers found receiver Ryan Malone in the end zone on the next play to give Limburg a 13-7 lead.

Another Crusaders turnover, this time a failed fourth and one at midfield, gave Limburg the ball back and they capitalized. Four plays later, wide receiver Vincenzo Claes hauled in a 10 yard scoring pass from Olieslagers and with the extra point the lead grew to 20-12 before the Crusaders stunning comeback.

With information from Gridiron American Football.

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