“(Berlin) played their hearts out today in the toughest stadium in Europe. I am so proud of them.”Germany’s Berlin Adler spoiled the chances of Europe’s top ranked Swarco Raiders from making the Big6 European Football League final by beating them 18-10 in the tough confines of Innsbruck’s home stadium. A crowd of 6,000 looked on as Berlin ground out a defense-first battle. Both defenses ruled the evening and both were sparkling, filled with playmakers. For a first hand look check out the full GAMEFILM and the end of this recap.
Berlin’s bend-don’t-break defense held star Raider running back Andreas Hofbauer to just 65 yards rushing on 14 carries. They did have trouble bottling up quarterback John van den Radt though, who scampered for a total of 146 yards and scored Swarco’s lone touchdown. Adler quarterback Darius Outlaw completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown, his favorite target being Glen McKay who led all receivers catching seven passes for 163 yards and a touchdown. Swarco quarterback van den Raadt was 15 of 32 for 157 yards and receiver Kyle Callahan was his favorite target with seven receptions for 112 yards.
Berlin Adler defensive coordinator Jag Bal:
“My guys played their hearts out today in the toughest stadium in Europe. I am so proud of them. They would not quit.”
“In short, we were just not good enough today,” said Raiders head coach Shuan Fatah. “We fought hard. Compliments to the Adler for a great game. We simply missed too many opportunities. ”
Swarco opened the scoring early in the first after Berlin’s first drive stalled. Starting from their own one yard line, van den Raadt engineered a four-minute, 95 yard drive mixing up his short passes with an electrifying 43 yard run from his own 16 to the Adler 41 yard line. Then with Callahan catching and Hofbauer running the Raiders reached the Berlin four before kicking a 14 yard field goal.
The Adler responded as Darius Outlaw found Glen McKay for a 63 yard pass down to the Raider 14 yard line. Four plays later Phillip Anderson kicked a 22 yard field goal tying the game at 3-3.
Neither team could mount much offense after that and the quarter ended 3-3. Early in the second, both defenses rose up and it turned into a game of field position with the punting game becoming crucially important. After Berlin took a Raider punt back to the 50, Outlaw found McKay for a 33 yard completion and had momentum. But with the ball on Swarco’s 17 yard line, Berlin sputtered and a 41 yard field goal attempt sailed wide.
Again the both defenses stiffened as both teams struggled to mount much offense. Finally, with 4:40 left in the second quarter, the Raiders seemed to find a rhythm. Relying on the running of both Hofbauer and quarterback John van den Raadt, and the catching of Callahan, Swarco drove the ball down the field reaching the Berlin 10 yard line and first and goal. Again, the Adler defense would not break allowing no penetration beyond that and sacking van den Raadt back to the Berlin 20. Inexplicably, on fourth and goal from the Adler 20,Raider head coach Shuan Fatah chose to run the ball and wideout Damaso Tarneller was tackled back at Berlin’s 31.
The Adler had no better luck and the first half ended in a 3-3 tie.
The Raider coaching staff made some halftime adjustments and on the first drive from their own 23 moved the ball smartly as Callahan time and again gave the Adler defensive backs problems. He caught two passes for 39 and 31 yards each, and with the ball finally on Berlin’s eight yard line van den Raadt made no mistake taking it in himself to give Swarco a 10-3 lead.
On the ensuing Berlin drive, quarterback Darius Outlaw guided his team on an 11 play, 75 yard drive, mixing his plays up and using his own legs. Wideout Chris Meadows had 29 yards receiving on the drive with Callahan adding 19 , and running back Bjorn Dreier rushing for 12 yards. Outlaw then found Glen McKay in the end zone for a four yard touchdown. A bad snap to kicker Anderson left the score 10-9 in favor of Swarco.
But on the Raiders’ next possession, they were trapped on their own five yard line and Berlin forced them into a safety making the score now 11-10 in favor of the Adler.
The teams traded possession three times before the Raiders picked off a Talib Wise pass attempt and returned it into Berlin territory and starting from the Adler 46 began marching the ball. But the drive sputtered at the Berlin 20 and Clemens Erlsbacher’s 37 yard field goal attempt was blocked.
This time Berlin made no mistake starting from their own 21, using the pass catching of McKay who picked up 44 yards on his first reception of the drive and the rushing of Talib Wise, who found a seam and scampered 31 yards to score the winning touchdown with just over two minutes left in the game.
The Raiders took over at their own 12 after the kickoff and van den Raadt took the game into his own hands. Time and again he found gaps in the Berlin defensive line rushing for a toal of 55 yards, moving the ball all the way down to the Berlin 38, before penalties and a fumble ended Raider hopes and Berlin ran the clock out with final score 18-10 for the Adler.
This was a clash of two of the top teams in Europe and it showed. The intensity of the game was relentless and when opportunities presented themselves, both teams seized them. This was a game to match the titanic battle between Germany and Austria in the European American Football Championships.
With the win, the Berlin Adler have clinched Group B and a spot in the Big6 European League final on July 19. They will face the winner of the game between the Raffieisen Vienna Vikings and the Dresden Monarchs.