ELF: Frankfurt Galaxy get huge win over Tirol Raiders, but poor 4th quarter could cost them

On Sunday, the Frankfurt Galaxy defeated the Tirol Raiders in a much-needed victory, as the 36-33 win kept the Galaxy’s season alive going into the last week of the European League of Football regular season.  Both teams are now 7-4 with one game left to make a push for the playoffs.

The Raiders opened the scoring in the game with a touchdown pass from Sean Shelton to Adrian Platzgummer in the first quarter, which was the only score of the opening frame.  The second quarter, though, belonged to the Galaxy, as they outscored their opponents 16-0 to take a nine point lead into halftime.  After the break, Frankfurt got the ball back and quickly added another touchdown, as they only needed just over a minute to find the end zone.  The Raiders scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession, but the Galaxy responded immediately, as quarterback Jakeb Sullivan found receiver Hendrik Schwarz for a 76 yard touchdown on the first play of their drive.  Frankfurt added another touchdown later in the third quarter, extending their lead to 36-13.  In the fourth quarter, however, it was the Raiders who were dominant, as they outscored Frankfurt 20-0 in the final frame.  The Galaxy held on for the win, but their poor fourth quarter was disappointing and could prove to be very costly later on.

Jakeb Sullivan had a great day for the Galaxy, completing 22 of 36 passes for 346 yards and 3 touchdowns.  He did a great job of spreading the ball around, as he completed passes to eight different receivers, none of which caught more than 4 passes.  Lorenz Regler led the team in yards with 81, and Kevin Mwanba caught two touchdown passes.  Thomas Fischbach carried the ball 16 times for 65 yards and a touchdown on the ground.  On the other side, Raiders quarterback Sean Shelton also played well, as he completed 23 of 33 passes for 249 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Like Sullivan, Shelton effectively spread the ball to several receivers, as he found nine different receivers over the course of the game, and each of his four touchdown passes went to a different receiver.  Shelton also carried the ball 14 times for 77 yards and a touchdown using his legs.

This game had an interesting element relating to the fact that these teams are two of four squads fighting for one remaining playoff spot.  The Raiders held sole possession of the last playoff spot going into the game, but now there are four teams with the same record of 7-4 going into the last week.  However, if the season ended today, the Raiders would make the playoffs due to the tiebreaker rules.

Tiebreaker goes to Raiders

The top tiebreaking rule after team record is head-to-head matchup results.  Since the Galaxy and Raiders split the season series at 1-1 (the Raiders beat the Galaxy 23-17 on July 3rd), the next factor is point differential in head-to-head games.  Since the Raiders won by six points last game and lost by three this game, they have the advantage in this tiebreaker.  That fourth quarter in yesterday’s game was critical, as had Frankfurt avoided losing the quarter by 20 points, they would have the tiebreaker over the Raiders going into the last week of the season.  

In fact, Frankfurt was trying to score a touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter rather than running out the clock, but Sullivan was intercepted.  The Raiders proceeded to kneel out the clock despite losing the game with under a minute left.  

The Raiders have another huge game to close the season as they go to Berlin to take on the Thunder, who are also 7-4 and are fighting for the last spot.  Meanwhile, the Galaxy should have a free win, as they host the 0-11 Stuttgart Surge.