Dacia Vienna Vikings and Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants get set for crucial Game 3

The Austrian Football League’s Best of Five Championship Series continues this weekend with the two teams, the Dacia Vienna Vikings and the Projekt  Spielberg Graz Giants headed to Vienna for Game 3.

It’s pretty simple. The Vikings lead the series 2-0 and a win gives them the Austrian title for the 15th time. A win by Graz sends the series back to Graz for Game 4.

Vikings DB Andrew Spencer Photo: Dacia Vienna Vikings

The Vikings won both games convincingly, taking Game 1 31-19 and then overwhelming Graz in Game 2, beating them 45-13. To make matters worse for the Giants, quarterback Hunter McEachern was knocked out of the game and is gone for the remainder of the series. He has now been replaced by veteran Anthony Gardner.

The two teams faced each other once in 2019 with Graz coming out on top, beating Vienna 36-14 at home in Graz. The last time the Giants defeated Vienna in Vienna was in 2016 when they squeaked by the Vikings 14-13. Vienna won four straight in 2017 and 2018 before succumbing last year.

Graz WR Florian Bierbaumer #89 Photo: Kunzfeld & Kunzfeld Photography

With Gardner in at quarterback for the Giants, the Vikings will be facing an old nemesis of sorts. The last time Gardner faced the Vikings was May 14, 2017 when he was playing for the Ljubljana Silverhawks. Although they lost 48-35 to Vienna in that game, Gardner threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns completing 74% of his passes. That year, he led the Austrian league in passing, throwing for 3,722 yards and 42 touchdowns. To say he is a prolific passer is not an exaggeration.

Dacia Vienna Vikings WR Yannick Mayr #14 Photo: Dacia Vienna Vikings

So far in the series, Vikings quarterback Jadrian Clark has completed 70% of his passes, 39 of 56, for 468 yards and 8 TDs in the two wins. Clark spreads his passes around more and in Game 2 he connected with 11 different receivers although his favorite targets are Yannick Mayr and Bernhard Seikovits. So far Seikovits has 141 yards receiving while Mayr hauled in four passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns in Game 2 to up his totals to 158 yards in two games.

The leading receiver for Graz has been Florian Bierbaumer and in the two games he has 16 receptions for 287 yards and two touchdowns. With a quarterback like Gardner, Bierbaumer, at 6’6″, 230 pounds, can break a game open.

This has not been much of a ground game used in this series by either team. Graz has rushed for a total of 122 yards in two games while the Vikings running backs have rushed for 166. Only one touchdown has been scored running the ball.

Graz Giants LB Blake Nelson #42 Photo: Kunzfeld & Kunzfeld Photography

Defensively, the Vikings improved immensely in Game 2, allowing Graz only 125 yards in offense as compared to 374 in the first game. Defensive back Andrew Spencer leads Vienna with 9 tackles and an interception while defensive lineman Leon Balogh has 7 tackles and a sack.

For the Giants, Leo Thoshold, from his defensive back position leads the team with 15 tackles while linebacker Blake Nelson has 9.5 tackles and two sacks.

Although Vienna is the favorite to take the title after two games, anything can happen in a playoff game. Watch all the action live on AFI.tv.



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