Revamped Braunschweig New Yorker Lions earn impressive win over Cologne Crocodiles

After a number of disappointing losses in the first half of the German Football League season, the defending champion Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, strengthened with the addition of seven new players, have stormed back with a convincing 43-28 win over the Cologne Crocodiles.

It was the Crocodiles who opened in convincing fashion though.

Christian Strong and his dangerous Crocodiles offense started with the ball and gave the Lions‘ defense a heavy dose of running back Dean Tanwani (#27). Strong then connected with one of the league’s most dangerous receivers, Markell Castle (#2), who, with nothing but the endzone in front of him, bobbled the ball and lost it out of bounds at the 10-yard line. Still, two plays later Tanwani finished the job, scampering in to give the Crocs their first TD.

One of those newly arrived additions for the Lions, Jordan Bouah (#9), made an impression on the ensuing kickoff with a 25 yard return. The speedy Bouah is fresh playing in the Italian championship game with the Milano Seamen and looked solid. New Yorker quarterback Jake Kennedy immediately got Bouah involved, hitting him on a pair of screens that picked up positive yardage. Then it was running back Exavier Edwards (#8) who started making the big plays, eventually pounding the ball in from a yard out to give the Lions their first TD in what turned out to be a shoot-out between the two sides until Braunschweig began to pull away.

Lions WR Jordan Bouah #9 Photo: Hans Kaestle

After a stalled drive by Cologne, the Lions and Kennedy were on the move again, but this time with CJ Okpalobi (#27) at RB – another one of the few recruits. Kennedy and Okpalabi were able to team up traversing most of the field with their legs, Kennedy punched it in himself from the 10 after a holding call on Bouah.

Cologne began to show off their impressive aerial game on the following drive with Strong hitting his receivers all over the field until he connected with Aaron Jackson (#4) on a beautifully thrown and caught post-route from the 30. With five minutes to go in the half, the teams were tied at 14 apiece.

Neither team was able to get anything going in the two possessions that followed. But some aggressive running from Braunschweig’s Edwards got the Lions just into field goal range; big-boy kicker Luca Jeckstadt (#95) knocked the ball through the uprights as the last seconds ticked off the clock in the first half to take the Lions up 17 – 15.

Cologne, determined not to let Bouah have a chance to take it to the house on the opening kickoff in the second half, instead kicked it to German wideout Mika Wickinger (#11). Wickinger took this personally and diced the Crocs for nearly 60 yards, trucking would-be tacklers as he went. This excellent return gave Braunschweig the ball at the Crocs 30, and Edwards took full advantage two plays later, crashing into the endzone.

Cologne WR Markell Castle #2 Photo: Hans Kaestle

The Crocs were not going to go down without a fight however as Strong again led his offense through the air capping the drive off with another 30-yard post to Jackson. Jackson in tight coverage leaped into the air and snagged it down to bring Cologne back within three.

On the first play of the next Lions drive, Okpalobi went for 70 yards, shrugging off defenders as he went. He would finish the drive off a few plays later, taking a swing route into the endzone from the ten.

The following Cologne drive resulted in a turnover on downs as the Crocodiles went for it on fourth, feeling the Lions begin to slip away. The dejected faces of Crocodiles as they walked off the field marked the end of the game for Cologne as they could only muster one more score while New Yorker continued to pour it on. The game finished with a convincing 43 – 28 victory for Braunschweig.

Cologne is a strong side and remains the only team to have beaten the powerful Dresden Monarchs this season. Beating the Crocodiles in such convincing fashion is no small achievement for Braunschweig and could mark a turning point in the season for the Lions.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.