Austria: Telfs Patriots advance to the playoffs for the first time after edging the Znojmo Knights

On July 3, the playoff field for the Austrian Football League was finalized after the Telfs Patriots claimed the fourth and final berth by beating the Znojmo Knights 19-14 in the last game of the regular season.

This marked the end of a debut season to remember for the Patriots. In their first year in the top league, they became the first team in league history to make the playoffs after playing in their second tier the year prior.

However, despite the celebrations, there was concern that this might not even happen. The day prior to the game, the Mödling Rangers, who had defeated Telfs 20-10 in the second week of the season, had a chance to dash the Patriots‘ hopes for postseason play when they faced the Prague Black Panthers. However, Prague blew out the Rangers 42-16, giving Telfs a “win and you’re in mindset” against the Knights.

Telfs Patriots WR Ravon Johnson #1 heading upfield against the Znojomo Knights Photo: Margot Steurer/Pixelstories

In the first half, wide receiver Theo Landström was the difference maker for the Patriots; catching and scoring both of their first two touchdowns in the game on passes from quarterback Aaron Ellis. The Knights still held a 14-13 lead though on touchdowns by wide receiver Corry Jones and running back Henry Ofori following a missed point after by Michael Fugger.

For the entire third quarter there were no score changes as both defensive lines were able to hold up against each other’s rushing attacks and their defensive backs prevented many potential game changing receptions.

The fourth quarter came, and the Patriots finally got the break they were looking for, as running back Raffael Kreuzer weaved his way into the end zone from 20 yards out for the go-ahead touchdown to put his team up by five. With a interception near the end of the game by Ravon Johnson, the Patriots completed what was seen as impossible throughout the AFL’s history as they were now on their way to the playoffs.

Znojmo Knights WR Stefan Borkovic battling for yards Photo: Margot Steurer/Pixelstories

Christopher Howard completed 18 of 33 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown in a losing cause for the Knights. Stefan Borkovic was his top receiver with five receptions for 79 yards while Corry Jones had four catches for 56 yards and the lone receiving touchdown for Znojmo. Howard led all rushers with 50 yards on six carries while Henry Ofori scored the only rushing touchdown in the game.

Patriots quarterback Aaron Ellis threw for 196 yards and three touchdowns with Ravon Johnson as his main target. Johnson caught five passes for 79 yards while Raffael Kreuzer had two for 52 yards and a touchdown while Landström caught four passes, two of them for touchdowns.

With the win, the fourth-seeded Patriots will be on the road July 16 in the AFL semifinal matchup against the undefeated Danube Dragons.

A recent graduate of Hofstra University in New York. He is currently a sports freelance journalist and podcaster