ELF: Hamburg Sea Devils fend off surprising Istanbul Rams in overtime

The Hamburg Sea Devils beat the Istanbul Rams 29-26 in overtime to cap off an exhilarating week 9 in the European League of Football.

The European football community has been in wild debate following the formerly winless Istanbul Rams’ victory over the Barcelona Dragons last weekend. Many said it was a fluke victory while others said the addition of an American quarterback was all the team needed to realize its potential.

But the verdict now appears to be in. The Istanbul Rams staged a second straight head-turning performance after going to Hamburg and taking arguably the second best team in the league to overtime, proving to the rest of the league they are not to be trifled with.

The game began quietly for both sides, but the second quarter opened up with several Istanbul bangs. The first came via a 39-yard touchdown pass down the seam from Isaiah Green to wideout Yllmaz Berk Güven and the second was an Atilla Isik pick-six putting the Rams up by two scores. A further three points was added by Mehmet Furkan Sarikatipoglu just before the half to bring the Rams to 17-0.

Hamburg RB Glen Toonga Photo: Michael Freitag

However, the most impressive aspect of the first half by the Rams wasn’t their ability to score points; it was their defense’s ability to keep the Sea Devils running game in check. In the first half Hamburg combined for a total of 48 yards, a fraction of what had been accomplished in previous weeks.

Unfortunately for the Rams their defense was not as stingy in the second half as it was in the first. Hamburg’s running back Glen Toonga came to life in the second half picking up three straight scores to take them back into the lead 20-17. 

The two teams traded field goals for the remainder of the fourth quarter with Sarikatipoglu again making a clutch 45-yard field goal to take the pair into overtime.

The Rams won the coin toss and began on Hamburg’s 25-yard line. One 12-yard run from Green was all that was needed to get Sarikatipoglu back into position to boot a field goal and give the Rams the lead.

Next up was the Sea Devils who would have to get at least a field goal if they wanted to stay in the game. But the Sea Devils and Jean Constant had other plans. The nifty wideout caught a screen and juked half the team out their cleats giving Toonga the opportunity to punch it in for six and Hamburg the win.

The Sea Devils will now continue their run into the playoffs, unlikely to face another challenge. As for the Rams, you can only feel sorry for them as their quarterback woes in the first half of the season probably cost them a playoff spot.

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.