Dresden Monarchs put away revamped New Yorker Braunschweig Lions

The most anticipated game of the weekend in the German Football League between the GFL North-leading Dresden Monarchs and the defending champion and newly revamped Braunschweig New Yorker Lions did not disappoint.

The Lions were playing their second game with seven new imports and had looked impressive in beating Cologne the week before while Dresden was on a five-game winning streak.

In the end, it was the division-leading Monarchs who prevailed. Trailing 13-7 after two quarters, Dresden put on a defensive show in the second half to come away with a gritty 24-19 win and move further ahead in the standings.

This matchup started with a bang. After three quick first-down completions from Dresden quarterback Kyle Carta-Samuels to wideouts Mike Schallo (#11) and Antek Podgorski (#16) – one of which went for 40 yards – Radim Kalous (#3) was able to score the opening touchdown to cap an all too easy 80-yard drive. Carta-Samuels looked sharp on the drive continued to make a case as one of Europe’s premier passers.

The ensuing Braunschweig possession started off markedly less explosive, as an early attempt on fourth and inches resulted in a turnover on downs. Although Exavier Edwards (#8) was running hard, the Dresden defense was up to the challenge and repeatedly stuffed him in the hole with the help of American linebacker Apelu Kaulana (#4).

Dresden Monarchs RB Photo: Uwe Zingler

The Lions defense may have struggled on Dresden’s initial drive giving up a touchdown but on the second it held. Still, a great punt by Dresden punter Florian Finke (#21) pinned Braunschweig on their own one-yard line. The Lions looked in trouble and were forced to punt out of their own endzone giving the Monarchs excellent field position. They were saved though by a roughing the kicker penalty. This gave Edwards and quarterback Jake Kennedy (#5) a second chance and they took advantage. Kennedy marched his team from the 14 to the Monarchs 12 and then launched a back-shoulder fade to wide receiver Paul Bogdann for a touchdown, evening the score at 7-7.

The Monarchs continued to move the ball, but less convincingly as the Lions’ defense seemed to have figured out their passing game. It was broken plays and great hands from Anthony Brooks that got them down the field in the second quarter. The drive stalled at the eight-yard line but Florian Finke kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Monarchs back in front, 10-7.

Although the feeling watching the game was that Dresden was the more dominant side, the Lions continued to hang around. The Monarchs‘ defense had no answer at times for Edwards and Kennedy. Kennedy hit Edwards for a 54 yard gain on the first play and suddenly Braunschweig was in the red zone. Four plays later, Kennedy punched the ball in from the one for their second touchdown. A failed extra-point kept the score at 13 – 10 with seven and a half minutes to go in the second.

Carta-Samuels continued to show off his clutch ability as a passer on the following drive leading the Monarchs‘ offense down the field, making light work of the Lions‘ secondary. He continued to utilize both Brooks and Kalous before running back David Baum (#27) ran it in from the one-yard line to put the Monarchs back on top, 17 – 13.

Kennedy, determined not to be outdone by his counterpart, led the Lions down the field next possession. The quarterback was never stationary. Whether running for the first down or moving the pocket and throwing on the run, Kennedy kept the drive alive. A stubborn goal-line stand by Dresden kept Braunschweig out of the endzone, however, forcing a field-goal attempt from the three. But as the ball arrived into the hands of the holder, so did Dresden linebacker Apelu Kaulana, forcing a turnover on downs to end the first half.

The third quarter was a game of aerial ping pong as neither side could do much with the ball. Dresden was able to get within field-goal range at one point but the kick sailed wide to the left. And then in the fourth quarter, the strangely quiet Darrell Stewart Jr. (#8) came alive. Starting with a double-covered slant-route, Carta-Samuels then targeted him on three consecutive plays, resulting in a toe-tap touchdown to finish the drive off taking the Monarchs up by two scores 24-13. This was the only drive Stewart Jr. saw the ball but it was all that was needed to close the game out with five minutes to go.

Braunschweig New Yorker Lions QB Jake Kennedy #5 Photo: Uwe Zingler

Kennedy was able to put together a 14 play, 90-yard scoring drive in response, taking the ball in himself to pull closer, 24-19. But it was too late as the run-heavy offense had taken way too much time off the clock to mount a meaningful comeback.

Carta-Samuels threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns with Anthony Brooks catching eight passes for 78 yards, Radim Kalous four for 54, and a touchdown, Antek Podgorski three for 62 yards, and Stewart Jr. three for 40 and a score. David Baum led his team with 67 yards rushing and a touchdown.

For Braunschweig, Kennedy completed 23 of 40 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown with Edwards as his leading receiver. He had six catches for 98 yards while Paul Bogdann had 40 yards receiving and another score. Kennedy was his team’s top rusher with 16 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns.

Coming so close to knocking off the top dogs will be a hard pill to swallow for the Lions, but they should take solace in the scoreline. Kennedy, with a talented roster now surrounding him, was able to put up a season-high 270 yards through the air. 

Dresden remains GFL favorites along with the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. Carta-Samuels has proven that even with Stewart Jr., one of his key receivers, effectively out of the game, he can still shred a defense. If teams hope to beat Dresden, they will need to find a way to not only win a shoot-out with Carta-Samuels but also do it against their stingy defense.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.