Dacia Vienna Vikings run over SsangYong Danube Dragons in Austrian action

The future of football may be the high flying aerial attacks that have become the expectation when turning on a pro or college game, but few things remain more satisfying as a player than dominating ones opponent physically along the ground.

That’s exactly what the Dacia Vienna Vikings did on Saturday.

Led by running back Florian Wegan and mobile quarterback Eystin Salum, the Vikings racked up 244 yards on the ground for an average of more than 7.4 yards per carry as they wore down a resilient SsangYong Danube Dragons squad hoping to break into Austria’s top tier.

After a scoreless first quarter, Salum first showed off his dynamic rushing ability by converting a fourth down gamble to open the second. The Colorado Mesa product took off another 12 yards the following play, then found receiver Mitchell Paige on the eight yard out to open the scoring.

Vikings QB Eystin Salum rushed for 71 yards and 2 TDs Photo: Andreas Bischof

The Dragons responded quickly through the air when quarterback Chad Jeffries found Lukas Gold on the scramble drill for a 40 yard gain. Four plays later, Jeffries found a streaking Philipp Haun on the out-and-up for a 24-yard score, but Leon Heidinger missed the extra point and the Vikings would never relinquish their lead.

On the next drive, Salum hit a wide-open Philipp Alexander Dubravec for a 45 yard gain to get the ball down to the two yard line. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved Vienna back, but they kept the chains moving and Florian Wegan took the option pitch in for a two yard score. After Vikings defensive end Leon Balogh punched the ball out of Jeffries‘ hands on the next series, Salum followed the lead of his backfield companion and leapt in from a yard away to complete the 14 point swing.

With less than three minutes remaining in the half, the Dragons put together a drive to close the gap. Jeffries bought enough time in the pocket to find Felix Reisacher for a 37 yard gain, then dropped it in to the bucket for Philipp Haun for an impressive 14 yard touchdown catch to make it 21-13 at the break.

A 29-yard Alexander Rabl field goal was the only spark of the third quarter, but another Jeffries fumble on the opening play of the fourth reinvigorated the Vienna offense. Wegan took off for 24 yards up the middle on the first handoff and the athletic Salum following his blockers for an easy eight yard score three plays later.

Vikings WR Mitchell Paige scored a TD Photo: Andreas Bischof

Down 18 with just over nine minutes on the clock, Jeffries went to work with renewed intensity. He connected with Lukas Gold twice for big first downs, found Philipp Haun for 26 yards down the sideline and then threw it up for a wide open Richard Weber for a five yard touchdown. The quarterback finished the series by scampering for the two point convert himself, cutting the lead to 10 points.

Unfortunately for Danube, their defense could not come up with the stop necessary to keep the momentum going. Wegan took over the game, exploding for 70 yards on the seven play drive before powering in from seven yards out to cap it.

Jeffries would connect with Felix Reisacher for a 41 yard score with 40 seconds remaining to return the margin to 10, but the Dragons‘ desperate onside attempt was easily recovered and the Vikings held on for a 38-28 victory.

At running back, Wegan was the unquestioned star of the evening, rushing for 172 yards and two touchdowns on just 19 carries. Dynamic dual-threat passer Eystin Salum was nearly as dangerous, taking off 12 times for 71 yards and two scores. The quarterback also completed 10 of 20 passes for 118 yards and a score, with Mitchell Paige leading the way with four catches for 56 yards and the lone touchdown catch.

For Danube, Chad Jeffries was 16 of 28 passing for 269 yards, four touchdowns and one interception while facing his share of pressure. Philipp Haun led all receivers with six receptions for 94 yards and two scores, Felix Reisacher hauled in three for 85 and a touchdown, while Lukas Gold had three catches for 71 yards.

Vikings DE Leon Balogh #1 was a problem for Dragons QB Chad Jeffries Photo: Andreas Bischof

Defensively, Luis Horvath brought in the game’s only interception early in the first quarter. Leon Balogh led the Vikings pass rush with 2.0 sacks, Maximillian Mullner had 1.5, Lucky Ogbeveon had one and Nikolaus Plenert added an assist. Moriz Elmauthaler led the team with six tackles, while Jun Jie Gao posted 8.5 for the Dragons. Felix Deutschmann and Bernhard Mosor combined for Danube’s only sack.

Ultimately it was the Vikings‘ offensive line and lead blockers that stole the day, opening up vast swaths of running room when called upon. While the Dragons have the offensive weaponry to compete with Austria’s upper echelon, those gaps will have to be filled if they want to prevent the Vikings from running all the way to the Austrian Bowl once again.

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.