ELF: Vienna Vikings pull off comeback win against Wroclaw Panthers

Saturday saw yet another second half come-from-behind win for the Vienna Vikings, as they edged the Wroclaw Panthers 24-21, claiming their sixth straight victory of the 2023 European League of Football season.

The Vikings found themselves trailing Wroclaw 21-10 at the half but shut down the Panthers the rest of the way while scoring a pair of touchdowns to come away with the win.

The first quarter was a tight one; Mak Sexton’s first drive as an ELF quarterback resulted in an interception as Sexton overthrew Tony Tate on third down, allowing Exavier Edwards to dive under the ball. Chris Helbig managed to drive the Vikings downfield thanks to a good chunk play to Weston Carr, but they failed to gain points from the drive, with Dennis Tasic missing the uprights from 42 yards out.

After a three-and-out from the Panthers, the Vikings regained possession and did not waste it, with a 67-yard drive resulting in a Helbig quarterback sneak to end the quarter 7-0.

The second period was all Wroclaw; they opened the quarter with a Dawid Brzozowski rushing touchdown and followed up with a 70-yard pick-six from Daniel Bender, putting the Panthers up by a score.

The Vikings failed to gain a first down, punting the ball to the Panthers within their own 10-yard line, which the Polish side clearly took as a challenge. The first play saw a big Sexton-Tate completion, followed two plays later by a 59-yard Brzozowski rushing touchdown. This three-play, 90-yard drive put the Panthers up 21-7 against the undefeated defending ELF champions.

Tasic managed to put three points on the board for Vienna from 46 before halftime.

The third quarter saw Exavier Edwards claim his second takeaway from ELF debutant Mak Sexton, returning the ball to the Panthers’ 48. The Vikings offense capitalized on this, as Helbig found Jordan Bouah deep for a 51-yard gain, allowing Florian Wegan to punch in a score from a yard out.

Sexton opened Wroclaw’s next drive with his third pick, this time going to Elmeri Laalo. The Panthers regained possession almost immediately due to a Vikings three-and-out, only to have Vienna’s Benjamin Straight force and recover a fumble via Tate. 

The teams exchanged punts until halfway through the final quarter, where the Panthers suffered yet another turnover, this time by way of Sexton, who had the ball stripped by Moriz Elmauthaler followed by a Nikolaus Huszar recovery.

Wroclaw DB Daniel Bender #2 Photo: Łukasz Skwiot Fotografia Sportowa

This turnover would go on to lose the game for Wroclaw, as Helbig topped off the next drive with a touchdown pass to Carr, putting the Vikings up 24-21.

Vienna managed to shut out the Panthers for the remainder of the game, sealing the deal with another Laalo pick – this time by way of Tony Tate, who received the ball on a reverse before heaving it downfield.

The Vikings will look to improve on this performance but take the winning momentum into week eight where they will face the 5-2 Berlin Thunder.

Mak Sexton and the Panthers will be aiming to overcome this second half embarrassment after an additional bye-week in place of the previously scheduled Leipzig Kings game. They will take on the Prague Lions in week nine.

A current student at Bournemouth University as well as a quarterback with eight years of playing experience. Brad's goal is to be a part of the growth of the game around the world through journalism and media.