Big6: Amsterdam Crusaders overwhelm Badalona Dracs with explosive 4th quarter in Spain

In a game for pride if nothing else, the Amsterdam Crusaders once again proved that they belong among the top teams in Europe after beating Spain’s Badalona Dracs 47-19 in Barcelona on the weekend in a Big6 matchup.

But the score does not truly reflect the game. It was a one point game until the fourth quarter.

Nevertheless, it was a decisive win and it was especially sweet for Amsterdam. The Dracs had beaten the Crusaders two years ago 11-8 in EFL group play.

Both teams had been eliminated by Germany’s Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in the group stage of the Big6.

Crusaders quarterback Keith Ray only completed 11 of 23 passes for 169 yards but three were for touchdowns. However,  Amsterdam’s running backs rushed for 217 yards, much in the fourth quarter when they also scored three late touchdowns.

Badalona quarterback Sergio Gonzalo threw for 299 yards on 23 of 51 (!) passing and two touchdowns. But with negative rushing yards for the Dracs running backs, Gonzalo was forced to the air more times than he would have liked and he was picked off four times. Dracs wide receiver Joey Herrick led all receivers with eight catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns.

Amsterdam took an early 7-0  lead on Endy Evenwel’s first of two touchdowns. Gonzalo then found Herrick from 32 yards out to tie the game. Jasper Nijland regained the lead for the Crusaders catching a two yard pass from Ray, but Herrick proved why he was one of the top four receivers in Spain catching his second to tie the game at 13-13 at the half.

Janawaski Davis broke the tie in the third quarter for Amsterdam as Ray hit him for a 75 yard touchdown giving the Crusaders a 20-13 lead. And Badalona came right back with Raul Cernuda catching a pass from Herrick on a fake field goal to close the gap to 20-19.

With eight minutes left, it still seemed like it was anybody’s game.

But that is when the Dracs simply ran out of gas.  Miquel Castelen,  Olivier Lugier and  Endy Evenwel all scored rushing touchdowns as the weary Badalona seven man front could not respond. Ray also tossed a touchdown pass to Revilinho Graanoogst as Amsterdam simply rolled over Badalona with four touchdowns in the last eight minutes of the game.

Next up for Badalona is the Spanish semifinal game this Sunday against the Murcia Cobras. 

Amsterdam play their final regular season game this weekend against the 010 Trojans looking to lock up their second undefeated regular season in Holland.

The Crusaders have truly taken a step up over the last two seasons, and made their mark with wins over German semifinalist the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes in 2016 and a tough loss to the best team in Europe, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, earlier this year.

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.