ELF: Paris Musketeers win debut game with clutch TD after slow start

The newly formed Paris Musketeers made their debut this past Saturday winning 24-17 in a whirlwind game that saw the hyped expansion European League of Football franchise go down to the wire to pull off the first win in franchise history. The cast of ELF and French league all-stars visited the Cologne Centurions as they looked to live up to the hype surrounding the star-studded team this offseason.

Fans tuning in likely expected fireworks from Paris as ELF All-Star duo quarterback Zach Edwards and wide receiver Kyle Sweet hoped to continue the magic that made them the league’s best duo in 2022 with the Barcelona Dragons. However, a sloppy offensive first half for both teams treated defensive lovers to a 0-0 halftime score. Both defenses dominated as Cologne’s Zachary Blair finished the day with four sacks, while French defensive end Stanley Zeregebe notched three of his own.

Maxime Le Pihif

Photo: Maxime Le Pihif

Cologne finally cracked the scoreboard open with a field goal to start the third quarter, giving even more life to a crowd of over two thousand Cologne fans hoping for an upset win. Yet disappointment quickly struck as Cologne gave up a safety on a bad punt snap-handing Paris two points, giving the scoreboard a soccer match result of 3-2 for the Centurions.

The Centurions offensive suddenly found its stride responding with a touchdown, as former Istanbul Ram star Terryon Robinson caught a beautiful fade pass from Dylan Jacobs giving them a 10-2 lead over the expansion Musketeers.

The opposing seemed to wake up the Paris offense as Musketeers all-star quarterback Zach Edwards seemed to shake off a bad first half and lead the team’s first ever-touchdown drive, eventually finding French receiver Florian Larose in the endzone. A successful two-point try led to a 10-all tie in the fourth quarter, as Edwards found end Adria Botella Moreno open in the endzone.

Stephen Yepmo carrying the ball Photo: Maxime Le Pihif

The Musketeers looked to have all the momentum at this point forcing a three and out on the next Cologne possession. Edwards and Musketeers then went on a long, 11 play, 60-yard drive sparked by a 20-yard completion to Adria Botello Moreno. However, following two sacks, the drive stalled and Paris missed a 23-yard field goal leading to zero points.

The Cologne crowd was on their feet at this point as the Centurions started marching down the field with less than three minutes to go. Quarterback Dylan Jacobs found Paul Kavadia Lenhardt for a circus catch to take a 17-16 lead over the Musketeers with 1:39 remaining giving the underdog Centurions a 17-10 lead.

With under two minutes to go, Paris responded as Edwards completed two chunk passes down the field, finding French receiver Remi Bertellini two straight plays for two 20+ yard gains, setting up the Musketeers in the red zone.

A defensive pass interference penalty then helped set up a short touchdown pass from Edwards to his 2022 teammate in Barcelona Kyle Sweet, giving them a six-point, 22-16 lead with under a minute remaining. Paris coach Marc Mattioli then opted for a two-point conversion allowing Edwards to call his own number on a quarterback draw fighting his way into the endzone for an additional two points and a slim seven-point lead with only 37 seconds remaining.

However, the fireworks were far from over as a penalty and on a kick out of bounds set up Cologne with good field position at their own 38-yard line. After three plays of no yards, the Centurions quarterback Dylan Jacobs heaved the ball towards the endzone on the last play of the game finding receiver Paul Kavadia Lenhardt just short of the endzone. Just as Cologne was sprinting to the line of scrimmage to clock the ball, time ran out for the Centurions, giving Paris a nail biting victory in the franchise’s debut.

Paris moves onto week two 1-0 as they face the Stuttgart Surge in their first ever home game at Stade Jean Bouin in Paris. Meanwhile, the Cologne Centurions hit the road facing the 0-1 Prague Lions in the Czech Republic’s capital city.

Alex is a former NCAA and semi-pro American football player who is now located in London, where he works in digital marketing. His goal in writing for AFI is to stay involved with the game that has given him so much. Alex enjoys covering leagues and