ELF: Cologne Centurions move to 2-0 in shootout win over Tirol Raiders

The Cologne Centurions have moved to 2-0 after a shootout 49-46 win over one of the European League of Football’s newest entrants, Austria’s Tirol Raiders.

The Centurions entered the game buoyed by their 40-38 home victory over the Istanbul Rams last week while the Raiders, following their narrow 29-23 defeat at the hands of the Vienna Vikings were looking to make a statement win over Cologne. What they were not ready for though was for the Centurions to come out swinging.

And come out swinging they did.

Centurions‘ quarterback Jan Weinreich hit returning wideouts Paul Kavadia-Lenhardt and Quinten Pounds on 40+ yard touchdown passes each along with a one-yard touchdown run to give Cologne a 19-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter offered a slightly more equal exchange, with the Raiders outscoring the Centurions. But still, the onslaught from Weinreich continued as he periodically picked apart an overly conservative Raiders secondary.

The last-minute first-half score orchestrated by Sean Shelton and newly acquired receiver Phillip Haun gave the team some life going in at the half. This momentum carried over into the third quarter with Shelton and running backs Logan Moragne and Tobias Bonatti tallying up 12 unanswered points.

By the time the fourth quarter came around only one point stood between the two sides. This was a moment that European veteran Shelton was built for. With a struggling defense that was constantly giving up big plays, Shelton went blow for blow with the Centurions.

This continued until the dying moments of the game. But it was Weinreich that stood up and took advantage of an uncharacteristically soft defense, taking Cologne into the lead, 49-46, with just 1:14 left on the clock. Weinreich ended the day with 374 yards and three touchdowns, picking up a further score with his legs.

The Raiders offense then proceeded to come out and offer up an odd and lackadaisical attempt. All day, Shelton had been carving up the Centurions defense with touch and timing. All we saw on the final drive was a swing route and a series of incomplete hitches.

This will now be gut check time for the Raiders as they have started their season 0-2 for the first time in as long as anyone can remember. The once proud Austrian powerhouse will need to make some changes and make them quickly if they want to revive their season.

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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.