Bruising Brit Glen Toonga powers Allgäu Comets to victory over Marburg Mercenaries

Life has many mysteries. Why are we here? What is our purpose? Where do all the lost socks from the dryer go when they disappear?

Recently a new mystery has emerged, more perplexing than all the rest. How does a cornerback tackle Glen Toonga?

We still don’t have an answer.

The bruising British back made his debut for the Allgäu Comets on Sunday and needed just 20 touches in a little more than three quarters of action to help upset the existing GFL hierarchy with a 31-7 victory over the Marburg Mercenaries.

On a day where the offense wasn’t asked to do much in the way of heavy lifting, Toonga seemed to barely break a sweat. He carried 12 times for 54 yard and a touchdown on the ground, posting a respectable 4.5 yards per carry, but did most of his damage in the screen game, finishing as his team’s leading receiver with eight catches for 83 yards.

Toonga’s 137 all-purpose yards was the engine that powered the Comets to victory in a game often marred by sloppy play, but it was the Mercenaries who struck first. On his first throw back in Marburg, homegrown quarterback Sonny Weishaupt went deep for promising youngster Niklas Fengler, who gained a step on his defender and trotted in the 39-yard touchdown. It would be the last points of the evening for the home team.

Comets QB McLane Carter Photo: Stefan Tschersich

Tim Göckus and Leon Feldus took turns ending the next two Allgäu drives with strips, but instead it was the Mercenaries for whom poor ball control would be the undoing. Johannes Wagner got home for a sack and a panicked Weishaupt lost the football, allowing Niall Padden to recover. The Comets took full advantage, with Glen Toonga immediately slicing through the middle for 19 yards. Four plays later, he punched it in himself and added the two-point conversion to take the lead.

Marburg seemed primed to respond early in the second. Weishaupt continued to utilize his chemistry with Fengler to move down the field and Aaron Seward gained tough yards on screens and reverses to get his team to the Allgäu six-yard line. Knocking on the door, disaster struck. Center Martin Aab turfed the shotgun snap and Weishaupt couldn’t wrangle the bouncing ball, allowing Johannes Wagner  to receive the gift. The big man thundered 68 yards to paydirt where Marcel Schade added the two-point attempt and the Comets did not threaten again.

A slippery football continued to be the storyline on the next drive. Jermaine Guynn began the series with a sack and ended it two plays later with the football in his mitts, after running back Merlin Detroy knocked the ball out of his own quarterback’s hands in pass protection. Brandon Kohn ran in the pitch from ten yards out and the Comets took a 22-7 lead.

Weishaupt opened the second half with an interception to Julius Täger and the Comets offense rolled for their longest drive of the game. Toonga continued to rumble in the screen game and quarterback McLane Carter showed off his own ability on the ground, keeping the option, juking Ruben De Ruyter off his feet and muscling his way into the endzone on a 22-yard touchdown run.

Marcel Schade added a 39-yard field goal for the Comets early in the fourth, but the majority of the second half was little more than garbage time. The Mercenaries crossed the mid-field mark just once, returning to their own end thanks to a sack the next play, and succumbed to the 31-7 loss with few fireworks.

Marburg RB Merlin Detroy #25 Photo: Stefan Tschersich

Sonny Weishaupt finished the game 16 of  22 passing for 138 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while Niklas Fengler stood out with four catches for 96 yards. Merlin Detroy added 19 carries for 46 yards. Defensively, import linebacker Robert Heyward had 13 tackles, Italian Alessandro Fantin had 10 and Tim Göckus had nine to go with a strip sack.

For the Comets, offensive standouts were few aside from Toonga, with McLane Carter completing 19 of 25 passes for 180 yards and a rushing touchdown. On defense it was a different story. Jermaine Guynn notched seven tackle, four of which were for a loss, and added a sack. Peter Arentsen and Jonell Pelie both got into the backfield, and Johannes Wagner posted six tackles and a strip sack to go with his touchdown. Julius Täger added five tackles and an interception.

Allgäu’s victory was one of many in Week One that might have been considered upsets in 2019, a testament to the lasting impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the presence of the new European League of Football. The new look Mercenaries will have a chance to get back in the win column next week against a Stuttgart Scorpions team similarly dogged by roster turnover, while the Comets will have two consecutive byes before they meet the Munich Cowboys later this month.

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.