Braunschweig New Yorker Lions find redemption in Potsdam against the Royals

Talk about redemption. The Braunschweig New Yorker Lions definitely got that and more Saturday in Potsdam as they avenged a devastating earlier season loss to the Royals, whipping the home team 35-20 and in doing so putting themselves back into championship contention.

In the first week of July, the Royals had overwhelmed Braunschweig 50 – 3, handing them their worst defeat since entering the German Football League. The win while satisfying also leapfrogged the Lions past the Cologne Crocodiles in the standings to take third place.

With the seven recent additions to the Braunschweig roster, quarterback Jake Kennedy (#5) has clearly found the support he needs to become the consistent player that the team needs. He threw completed 10 of 13 passes for 116 yards and three touchdowns, but Kennedy is far more of a threat with his legs. He and the running back duo of Exavier Edwards (#8) and CJ Okpalobi (#27) combined for a total of 191 yards to keep the chains moving and the scoreboard ticking over. 

And within the newly arrived contingent of players came a defensive revamp. The likes of Derrain Winston (#28) and Fillipo Fort (#10) were able to clamp down on the monstrous rushing game of Potsdam – holding Jake Mayon (#34) to just 83 yards –  leaving the Royals to rely on a passing attack that was found wanting.

Braunschweig QB Jake Kennedy Photo: Nicol Marschall

The passing game was a thorn in the side of Potsdam from the get-go. Possession belonged to the Royals first, but no sooner had they began driving the ball thdid QB PJ Settles (#6) throw his first pick to Hendrik Scharnebacher (#7). This would lead to the first touchdown for the Lions that was set up by a fourth-down 34-yard pass from Kennedy to Italian wideout Jordan Bouah (#9).

After a negligible drive by the Royals, the Lions were back on the move after a great punt pinned them at their own three-yard line. Kennedy was able to get them out of the danger zone but two plays later he was sacked at his own 15, fumbling the ball in the process, which the Royals recovered. This was all the room the athletic Settles needed to get the Royals into the endzone to even things up, but a blocked extra point kept the score at 7 – 6.

But on the very next drive, Braunschweig again were able to find the endzone with ease. After a great return by Okpalobi set the team up at midfield, Kennedy was able to hit his tight end Fabian Rolfes (#87) on a 25-yard dart for the second score. The third came after a clunky Royals drive which ended in a Settles fumble at the Royals 46 yard-line. On the next play, Okpalobi broke off a 46-yard run into the endzone taking the Lions up 21 – 6.

The apparent benching of Settles after this to bring in Italian-American quarterback Geovanni Rescigno (#2) did little to relieve their offensive plights. The Lions would crash in for one more before the half ended by way of a six-yard reception from Kennedy to Christian Bollmann (#85) to leave the score at 28 – 6 at halftime.

Potsdam QB PJ Settles Photo: Nicol Marschall

Braunschweig received the ball in the second half and immediately gobbled up chunks of yardage thanks to two back-to-back 15 yard penalties. Running back Exavier Edwards then went on a 21-yard rampage in Royals territory before his teammate Okpalobi finished it off on the goalline. 

 

With Settles back in behind center, was little to do but continue the running game, taking swathes of time off the clock and producing very little. The fourth quarter came in with the Lions ahead 35 – 6 in what had been a dominant performance.

But Settles, ever the professional, wasn’t going to go down without a fight and led the charge at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Two 20+ yard throws got them into the endzone for the first time since the first quarter. Settles appeared to have figured out the Lions D as on the very next drive he did the same, setting up Mayon to punch the ball in from the three-yard line. But with only four minutes left the deficit was still too big a hurdle to overcome. The game ended 35 – 20.

Settles finished the game 12 of 18 for 124 yards and a touchdown but also threw two picks. In the final quarter, Settles was able to show what a threat he can be. But the Lions have shown that without a running game from Mayon backing him up, he may struggle throwing the ball.

After Braunschwieg’s first two losses of the season, the murmurings began – what had become of the once-mighty Braunschweig New Yorker Lions?

Those questions are no more. In the last three games – despite the close loss to the Dresden Monarchs – the Lions have shown they are ready for the playoffs and can battle with the best of them.

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He has played football for the London Warriors for the last 15 years as well as the