ELF: Istanbul Rams stage huge upset in win over Barcelona Dragons

The Istanbul Rams have shocked the European League of Football following their 22-19 victory over the Barcelona Dragons, giving them their first win of the season.

Coming into this week-8 contest there was uncertainty around the league as to the outcome. One aspect that was seemingly underestimated though was the impact new quarterback Isaiah Green would have.

The game began as expected with two scoring drives from the Dragons via former NFL kicker Giorgio Tavecchio’s leg to bring the score to 6-0 in favor of Barcelona. But it was immediately apparent that the Dragons, despite facing a mobile quarterback every day in practice, were unprepared for Green’s ability to run the ball.

Following a key personal foul penalty against Barcelona’s defensive end Alejandro Fernandez, the Rams were in prime position to score their first touchdown. It came off a three-yard run from Green to take the Rams up 7-6 midway through the second quarter.

Even though the game was yet to reach the halfway point, Istanbul’s lead had an unsettling impact on the Dragons sideline. Still, Barcelona responded to this league-defying scoreline almost immediately as Benjamin Plu reeled in a 12-yard touchdown pass from Zach Edwards to give the Dragons the lead again.

However, Istanbul appeared to be a different team than in recent weeks. Defensively, with Zachary Blair, Marcus Tuleba and Jamari Milliken along with developing domestic players in the lineup, the Rams held the Dragons to just 65 rushing yards and Zach Edwards, one of the best passers in the league, to 200 yards. This was worlds apart from the 70-0 thrashing the Rams were dealt just two weeks prior by the Hamburg Sea Devils.

It was this new lust to compete that kept the Rams in the game. They responded to Plu’s touchdown with two field goals and a safety to take a 15-13 lead by the start of the fourth quarter.

The Dragons then went on a six-play, 65-yard touchdown drive to leap back into the lead – 19-15 – and what looked to be a narrow escape out of Istanbul

And this appeared to be the way the game was going to end until Alejandro Fernandez committed another major penalty this time a 15 yard roughing the passer call which along with a pass interference call, gave the Rams prime field position to snatch their first win. And from the one-yard line Turkish running back Taha Çokadar powered his way into the endzone to give Istanbul a much needed win.

The importance of this Rams victory cannot be overstated. Their recent score lines brought into question not only the integrity of the European League of Football but also how Turkish football matched up with the rest of Europe. Snatching a victory from one of the best teams in the league is a sure-fire way to start to put those questions to bed.

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.