Germany’s Potsdam Royals overcame a fourth quarter, two touchdown deficit and added the winning two point conversion with 22 seconds left to defeat the Milano Seamen 43-42 in Milano, Italy and win the European Football League, EFL, title.
Royals quarterback Austin Gahafer completed 31 of 48 passes for 404 yards and three touchdowns while running back Tyvis Smith scored three touchdowns. Wide receiver Frederik Myrup Nielsen caught 11 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown while Max Zimmerman had eight receptions for 121 yards and a score. The other touchdown was scored by David Soul.
The Royals dramatic, last second win overshadowed a brilliant performance by Seamen wide receiver Xavier Mitchell who scored four touchdowns catching 10 passes for 279 yards. He was a one-man wrecking crew for Milano. Quarterback Luke Zahradka threw for 403 yards and five touchdowns and ran one in himself. Danilo Bonaparte also scored one.
The game opened with the teams trading touchdowns as first Gahafer connected with Zimmerman to put the Royals up 7-0. Then Zahradka answered finding Mitchell on a 56 yard pass for the first of his four touchdowns.
Potsdam regained the lead as Nielsen hauled in a 32 yard touchdown pass from Gahafer. But Zahradka found Bonaparte for a 16 yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 14-14.
On the very next possession, Smith capped a Royals drive with a 14 yard touchdown run but Mitchell replied for Milano with a brilliant 71 yard touchdown reception and the game was tied again at 21-21 still in the second quarter. Zahradka mounted a six play, 53 yard drive in the waning minutes of the first half and Mitchell finished it with a four yard touchdown catch giving the Seamen a 28-21 halftime lead.
Potsdam opened the third quarter with Gahafer marching his team 90 yards in 14 plays with Smith punching the ball in from the three yard line, evening the score at 28-28.
Milano then seemed to take control as Zahradka scored on a quarterback sneak and then, with the defense keeping Potsdam in check, Mitchell scored on a 39 yard touchdown pass giving the Seamen a 42-28 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Smith ignited the comeback as he returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to the Milano 41 yard line. Five plays later Gahafer found Soul from 22 yards out and the Royals cut the lead to 42-35.
With the Seamen suddenly unable to move the ball, Potsdam took over with just over three minutes left. Following a 78 yard drive which included a fourth down conversion in their own zone, the Royals scored with Smith rushing for a seven yard touchdown. With the score 42-41 the Royals elected to go for the win. On the first two-point conversion attempt, Smith scored but a holding call nullified the two points. The next attempt, with 22 seconds on the clock was successful and Potsdam held a 43-42 lead.
The Seamen’s last gasp 60 yard field goal attempt was blocked and the Royals began celebrating.