Austria’s Raiders and Vikings Advance To Austrian Bowl XXXI

The Swarco Raiders have advanced to the Austrian championship game for the fifth year in a row by downing the Prague Black Panthers 48-46 in a thriller in Innsbruck.

They will face arch nemesis the Vienna Vikings who beat the Danube Dragons 38-27. This is the fourth consecutive trip to the final for Vienna who have won the past two against Swarco.

Swarco Raiders 48 – Prague Black Panthers 46

Austria - Raiders v. Panthers 2 pic

Swarco Raiders quarterback Sean Shelton was as dangerous with his legs and with his arm in the Raiders win, rushing for 105 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 154 yards and three touchdowns in leading his team to a 48-46 semi-final win over the Prague Black Panthers. He was 14 of 18 in passing with a quarterback rating of 204.6.

Despite his outstanding play, the game, or games, came right down to the wire. In fact, it was a tale of three games. In what might be called the first game, Prague took an early 17-7 lead behind the passing of Kyle Newhall-Caballero and kept Swarco’s offense off of the field.

Early in the second period, which we can refer to as the second game, however, the Raiders began taking control  as Shelton started clicking with his receivers and Swarco’s ground game gained momentum. The Raiders scored three unanswered touchdowns to take the lead 28-17 at the half.

They did not let up in the third quarter adding two more rushing touchdowns entering the fourth stanza leading 42-17 with the game in hand…or so they thought.

Third game…

Newhall-Caballero threw for 193 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a fourth in the fourth quarter alone as Prague mounted a furious comeback. With the ball on their own 20. Newhall-Caballero engineered an eight play 80 yard drive capping it with an 11 yard touchdown pass to Jan Dundacek to close the gap to 42-24.

Swarco countered with a seven play drive themselves extending the score to 48-24 with six minutes left. This is when Newhall-Caballero really went to work and special teams played a key role. He engineered three more touchdowns and Prague’s special teams recovered two onside kickoffs within the space of six minutes to bring the score to 48-46. That was as far as it went though as the final two point conversion attempt fell incomplete letting the Swarco Raiders breathe a sign of relief and qualify for the Austrian final for the third year in a row.

Vienna Vikings 38 – Danube Dragons 27

Austria - Vikings v Dragons 2 pic2

In Vienna, the story was not far different. Vikings quarterback Alexander Thury threw for 251 yards and a touchdown while running back Islaam Amadu rushed for 77 yards and the Vikings spread out the scoring to beat a surging Danube Dragons squad 38-27.

This game as well was a tale of different games. Danube’s Alexander Good threw for 247 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for 89 yards in leading his Dragons back from a 31-7 deficit.

Early on Thury was precise, surgically picking apart the Dragons secondary with his pinpoint passing, his main target being Manuel Thaller who caught five passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. By the end of the third quarter, the Vikings held a 31-7 lead which they did not look like they were going to relinquish. But just as in the Raiders/Black Panthers contest, the Dragons mounted a counter offensive.

Good threw for 173 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and the Dragons recovered one onside kickoff but were finally stymied when their second onside kickoff failed with just over a minute to go. The Vikings took over taking two knees to end the game.

The Vikings and Raiders will meet Saturday July 11 in Austrian Bowl XXXI at 7 PM.

 

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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