CEFL: Austria’s Danube Dragons capture CEFL Bowl XVIII

Behind a defense that shut out the defending Swiss champion Calanda Broncos the entire second half, Austria’s Danube Dragons broke open a 14-14 halftime tie and went on to defeat the Broncos 27-14 to capture their first ever Central European Football League crown this past weekend.

Playing in Chur, Switzerland, Danube endured a steady downpour, the threat of a thunderstorm and a loud, home crowd to defeat a stubborn Broncos squad.

The Dragons struck on the game’s fist possession, as quarterback Alex Thury marched his team down to the Calanda seven yard line helped by a huge 53 yard run by running back Madre London. Then London weaved his way into the end zone to give Danube a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

Two possessions later, Calanda answered as quarterback Robin Sennrich connected with wide receiver Max Gray streaking behind the secondary for a 62 yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7 with just over three minutes left in the first quarter.

The Broncos struck again early in the second quarter as Sennrich hit Adrian Sünderhauffor a 27 yard score to give Calanda their first lead of the game.

After succeeding in recovering an onside kickoff, the Broncos moved the ball down to the Danube 35 yard line but then disaster struck as on a fourth and 19 Sennrich was picked off on the Danube three yard line by Paul Schachner who returned the ball 97 yards for a touchdown.

With the game tied at 14-14 and eight minutes left in the first half, suddenly neither offense could gain any momentum. Sennrich threw another interception and then Thury followed suit just before halftime.

The third quarter as Madre London show. London, who had 121 yards rushing on the day, pounded the ball down into Calanda territory. Then Mas Prevoo booted a 52 yard field goal to give Danube the lead again, 17-14.

In the third period London kept grinding out the tough yards for the Austrian side. When their drive finally stalled it was a newcomer to the team, Mas Prevoo who pulled them ahead with an incredible 52 yard field goal to make it 17-14.

When they got the ball back, the Broncos were faced with a conversion on third and one from their own 33 yard line. The ball came loose in the middle of the pile and Danube defensive back Fabian Raunig scooped it up and raced all the way to the end zone in front of a stunned Broncos crowd increasing the lead to 24-14 midway through the third.

Another Calanda turnover spelled doom for the as Sennrich threw his third interception of the day.

The final quarter saw the Dragons feed the ball to London to grind the clock down while the Danube defense held the Broncos in check. Danube finally started to move the ball late in the game and with three minutes left Prevoo booted his second field goal of the game to give Danube a 27.14 lead.

Then on the ensuing possession, the Dragons stuck the final dagger in as Paul Schachner recorded his second pick of the day earning him the Game MVP award.

In winning CEFL Bowl XVIII, the Dragons become the third Austrian team to win the title. The Graz Giants took the crown in 2016 while the Swarco Raiders won in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

Photos: Sergio Brunetti. 

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