Copenhagen Towers seize Mermaid Bowl XXXII thanks to dominant tail end

Every football coach preaches the need to play four perfect quarters, a full 60 minutes. Rarely does that come to fruition however and, feet to the fire, most would admit a strong finish is preferable to a fast start on most occasions.

That was true for the Copenhagen Towers in Saturday’s Danish title game, as they took home the Mermaid Bowl with a 24-7 victory over the Søllerød Gold Diggers in a fashion fitting of the trophy’s namesake. That is to say, it was a win with a spectacular tail end.

Held scoreless for almost the entire first half, the Towers dominated the second from start to finish with a combination of outstanding defense and a blistering run game. The result was their ninth Mermaid Bowl title in club history and third in the last four seasons.

If the Towers‘ second half surge was the glistening mermaid’s tail, then the Gold Diggers’ opening drive was the beautiful face that first grabs your attention, as a huge return by Simon Fons puts the ball at the Copenhagen 25-yard line. Two plays later, running back Christian Vahl seemed to get caught up on an inside run, only to break free and bounce outside behind a nasty pancake from left tackle Troels Thorbjorn Nielsen and followed the block of Jonathan Nielsen 23 yards to paydirt.

Down seven less than a minute in, the Towers came out firing in response. Jakob Green picked up an 18-yard catch and running back Anton Witmeur squirted for 23, but Randall Schroeder’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams was called back for a penalty and Green missed a 36-yard field goal to come away empty-handed.

Copenhagen Towers running back Anton Witmeur (28) runs the football during Mermaid Bowl XXXII (2021-10-09). Vejle Atletikstadion, Vejle, Denmark, October 9, 2021. Photo: Mikkel Bo Rasmussen / 1st Down Photo (@1stdownphoto)

Both offenses fell into a significant lull after that, until David Tawake Christoffersen picked off Schroeder to provide Søllerød a golden opportunity early in the second quarter. Jens Ole Kaae provided a spark by turning a checkdown into a 27-yard gain, but the decision to run Fons out of the wildcat later in the drive resulted in sacks from Andreas Schneider and Michael Kristiansen before the Gold Diggers turned it over on downs.

Again, the offenses traded a string of short uneventful drives, until Copenhagen got the ball back with excellent field position after a fumbled snap from punter Helson Jouffroy led to an unsuccessful scramble for the sticks with a minute left in the half. Schroeder took over and the Towers came alive. Without having recorded a catch to that point, import receiver Mike Williams had four for 50 yards in the next 50 seconds, but his final target from Schroeder in the endzone was ruled out of bounds despite an apparent toe drag. Green settled for a 27-yard field goal and Copenhagen entered the break down four.

The momentum continued to start the third, as Anton Witmeur came out of the half like a man possessed. He burst for runs of 12 and 17 yards inside, before breaking it outside for a 24 yarder to put his team inside the five, but Williams was ruled out of bounds for a second time on what looked to be a spectacular touchdown catch to kill the drive. Green lined up for an easy chip shot, but Spaniard Pol Cunnillera burst through to block the kick and potentially tilt the field back in his team’s favour.

It wasn’t to be, as that drive was quickly killed by a bad exchange between quarterback Andreas Sølling and Christian Vahl that was recovered by Mads Marquard Nielsen. Randall Schroeder went back to work with Witmeur in the backfield and a few plays later found Green on a five-yard bang route to take their first lead of the game.

Søllerød succeeded only in pinning Copenhagen at their own one-yard line with a punt on the next drive, but after big plays from Witmeur and Williams got them out of danger, the Towers themselves returned the favour by downing a punt at the Gold Diggers’ five. They would not have the same success escaping, as Sølling looked to pass from inside his own endzone and lost the handle on the ball with Andreas Schneider in his face. Michael Kristiansen jumped on top for the defensive touchdown and Copenhagen was suddenly up 17-7.

Copenhagen Towers linebacker Andreas Schneider (2) sacks Søllerød Gold Diggers quarterback Andreas Sølling (4) during Mermaid Bowl XXXII (2021-10-09). Vejle Atletikstadion, Vejle, Denmark, October 9, 2021. Photo: Mikkel Bo Rasmussen / 1st Down Photo (@1stdownphoto)

The Gold Diggers‘ luck would not improve in the fourth quarter and though they stopped the Towers on their next drive, an ill-advised wide-side throw from Sølling fell into the lap of Eivind Rolles. The Copenhagen offense made short work of it and Witmeur soon powered in from a yard out to extend the lead. Sølling led one last valiant drive downfield, but a hail mary touchdown to Jouffroy was called back for an ineligible man downfield and there wasn’t a second last gasp, as they finally succumbed to the Towers 24-7.

In the loss, young Andreas Sølling finished 12-of-23 for 148 yards and a pick, six times connecting with Jens Ole Kaae for 72 yards, while Christian Vahl carried 20 times for 42 yards and the opening score. Both backfield players felt the wrath of Copenhagen linebacker Andreas Schneider, who took the MVP award for the 32nd edition of the Mermaid Bowl after recording 3.5 sacks and being a consistent presence behind the line of scrimmage.

Offensively, Anton Witmeur finally got his well-earned moment in the championship spotlight, carrying 19 times for 161 yards and a touchdown, with 140 of those yards coming after the halftime break. Michel Konate Jr. chipped in 11 carries for 43 yards, while Randall Schroeder was 15-of-29 for 154 yards passing, one touchdown and a pick. Jakob Green caught seven passes for 66 yards and the score, while Mike Williams had five for 70, denied a three-touchdown outing by a few inches and a penalty flag.

Standing atop Danish football once again, the Copenhagen Towers will wave their flag with little care for the rocky start they overcame to get there. What they’ll remember is the mermaid’s tail ending, perfect and beautiful, and the crown it placed on top of their heads.

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.