Austria: Dacia Vienna Vikings run roughshod over Prague Black Panthers as season hits midpoint

One has to wonder if the receivers for the Dacia Vienna Vikings even bother to shower after games anymore.

The talented group chipped in where they could on Sunday, but spent most of the afternoon the same way they have all season; watching their team’s multi-faceted rushing attack take control of a football game from the opening whistle and not give it up.

This time it was the Prague Black Panthers who fell victim, surrendering 245 yards along the ground in a 27-9 loss where the second half was little more than a formality. Prague managed just 225 total yards of combined offense in the face of Vienna’s smothering secondary, remaining winless at the halfway point of a challenging Austrian Football League season.

After fruitless opening series for both teams, the Vikings got the ball rolling mid-way through the first quarter. Freshly returned from an appearance on hit reality show The Bachelorette, triple-threat weapon Andrew Spencer re-introduced himself with an electric 24-yard run to start the drive. Not to be outdone, running back Florian Wegan exploiting a crease up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

Vikings DB Benjamin Straight snagging an interception Photo: Andreas Bischof

Prague quickly responded with a rare offensive highlight of their own. Quarterback Zack Greenlee escaped to his right, taking advantage of a free play to heave the ball deep to Jan Stiegler in double coverage. The pass slipped past the reach of both defenders and Stiegler emerged in behind for a 67-yard score.

Tied at six thanks to a pair of missed extra points, the Vikings began the second quarter with another 44-yard statement run up the middle from Wegan. Quarterback Eystin Salum finished the job, rolling left and finding a falling Daniel Schwam for a 16-yard score.

Greenlee let loose an ill-fated floater meant for Jan Beran on the next series, easily picked off by Benjamin Straight. It was Salum’s turn to dazzle with his legs, exploding for a 17-yard run to get the ball moving, and Spencer capped the series by trucking Michael Vondracek on outside zone for a 12-yard touchdown.

Greenlee managed to put together an 11-play, 64-yard drive later in the frame, but settled for a 34-yard Martin Mandik field goal. It would prove to be their last real drive of substance. Vienna had two touchdowns erased by penalty late in the second quarter, a Straight pick six and electrifying Spencer return, but finished with an easy Nikolaus Huszar interception to keep it 20-9 at the half.

The Vikings would strike one final time to start the third quarter. The pop-fly of an opening kick was misplayed by the Panthers and Christoph Kellner recovered, allowing Salum to make light work of the defense. A seven-yard touchdown strike to Philipp Dubravec on the slant capped the scoring and backup Nico Hrouda took the reins for much of the second half as the defense locked up a 27-9 victory.

Vienna proved almost unstoppable on the ground once again, led by league leading rusher Florian Wegan. The do-it-all back carried nine times for 140 yards and a touchdown, Andrew Spencer flashed with nine touches for 78 yards and a score of his own, while Eystin Salum added 40 yard on nine scrambles. The quarterback also finished as his team’s third leading receiver, with one catch for 18 yards.

Vikings D #7 Vito Millauer, #1 Leon Balogh, #8 Oskar Kranich, #32 Luis Horvath kept the Prague offense in check Photo: Andreas Bischof

Salum finished eight for 15 through the air for 80 yards and two touchdowns. Nico Hrouda was seven of nine for 65 yards in relief. Rudolf-Fabian Lee Frey led the way with only four catches for 39 yards, while Daniel Schwam was close behind with three for 34 yards and a touchdown.

The Vienna defense, led by Leon Balogh, Christoph Kellner and a high-flying secondary, held Zack Greenlee to just eight of 24 passing for 138 yards, one touchdown and two picks. Jan Stiegler was his top target, hauling in five receptions for 97 yards and a score. Top back Ladislav Jensik finished with 34 yards on 14 carries.

With another resounding victory, the Vikings remain the undefeated top seed in Austria. Their heavy dose of the ground game continues to pay dividends and cause headaches for opponents, with that trend sure to be tested against a new-look Graz Giants in two weeks time.

The strategy may do little for receivers’ egos, but it does wonders in the win column.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.