Badalona Dracs introduce new import contingent with dominant victory over Mallorca Voltors

They say the key to a good first impression is eye contact and a strong handshake, but Mike Taylor III clearly had a different idea.

Instead, the import defensive end introduced himself to Spanish football with a bone-rattling tackle for loss on the opening play of Sunday’s LNFA contest between the Badalona Dracs and Mallorca Voltors, exploding through visiting running back Piti Mir Moreno in impressive fashion.

The fresh-faced American looked unstoppable at times as he racked up four sacks and had another two erased by penalty in his Spanish debut, but his wasn’t the only impressive introduction. The four-time reigning national champion Dracs had a trio of new imports with them when they took the field this week and each impressed, sending the Voltors back across the Balearic Sea with a commanding 37-14 victory.

While Taylor made his presence felt early and often, it was new quarterback Cory Benedetto who opened the scoring for the Dracs. After a first quarter marred by sloppy penalties on both sides, the former Ingolstadt Duke found his legs in the second and improvised his way down the field, punching it in himself from four yards out.

Badalona Dracs DE Mike Taylor #9 hauling down Mallorca Voltors QB Tanner Young #13 Photo: Joan Sancho – Fotoart

The extra point attempt was blocked but it would not take long for Badalona to get back into scoring territory. On their very next drive, tight end Raul Cernuda ran a short button hook and rolled off contact, rumbling up the sideline for a 62-yard gain. Three plays later, Benedetto found newly signed Austrian receiver Dario Dobr0levski at the back of the end zone for a four yard score to put the Dracs up 13 at the half.

Dobrolevski kept the momentum going with a big return to begin the third quarter but Benedetto was quickly intercepted by Marcos Molina. The Voltors could do nothing with it however and Badalona went right back to the Austrian for two massive gains on the next drive, culminating in a beautiful 35-yard touchdown strike delivered by a scrambling Benedetto.

Down by 20, Mallorca finally responded. Without pressure in his face for the first time all day, quarterback Tanner Young unloaded deep and found college teammate Jaylon Hibbs, who split double coverage for a 47-yard score to make it 20-7.

It would only be a brief respite from the Badalona onslaught. Benedetto led another drive deep into Voltors territory to end the third quarter, but was held one yard short of the goal line by British linebacker Kadel King. The Dracs settled for an 18-yard Adrian Ventura field goal, but were right back at it to start the fourth quarter. Running back Eduard Morlans reigned in a suicide pass from Benedetto on a short screen and then turned up field, following his blocks and breaking the ankles of defender Carlos Vega on route to a 27-yard score.

Badalona wasn’t done either. The relentless Dracs defense once again forced Mallorca to punt from their own endzone and Niko Lester caught the ball near mid-field. The electric German-American weapon took off wide left, outpacing the coverage and cutting back on the punter for an untouched 47-yard touchdown to make the score 37-7.

Badalona QB Cory Benedetto #3 threw for 225 yards and 3 TDs Photo: Joan Sancho – Fotoart

A late game Kadel King interception would allow the Voltors one more burst of Young to Hibbs magic with a cross-field 13-yard touchdown, but it was simple window dressing and the Dracs easily extended their unbeaten streak in Spanish play to 44 game.

The Voltors could do nothing to escape Badalona’s dominant pass rush and Mike Taylor made as many appearances in the Mallorca backfield as starting running back Piti Mir Moreno. Constantly harassed, Young was held to just 6 of 20 passing for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Jaylon Hibbs was the only player with multiple catches, bringing down three for 85 yards and both scores.

On the other side, Cory Benedetto smoothly navigated the pocket and was an efficient 13 of 19 for 225 yards and three touchdowns, while throwing two picks. The Morrisville State product was also the game’s leading rusher, taking off nine times for 38 yards and a score. Dario Dobrolevski was his favorite target, catching four passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to Taylor’s exploits, Niko Lester, Cesar Brugnani and Eduardo Cuenca were noticeable presences on defense.

After a strong showing in the team’s first two games, some felt Mallorca might challenge Badalona in Spain’s Eastern Division. Sunday proved that with a reloaded Dracs roster, everyone has a long way to go to knock off the king.

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.