ELF: Vienna Vikings stay undefeated with victory over Austrian rivals Raiders Tirol

The Vienna Vikings maintained their unbeaten streak against the Raiders Tirol in the European League of Football, as they defeated their Austrian rivals 27-19 on Saturday in Innsbruck.

The Raiders got the ball first but quickly fumbled the ball away, and the Vikings’ offense capitalized with a 5 yard touchdown pass from Ben Holmes to Noah Touré.  The Raiders got the ball back and put together a much better drive than their previous one, but ultimately settled for a field goal.  However, the Vikings would respond with a field goal of their own, taking a 10-3 lead near the end of the first quarter.

The home team struck quickly in the second quarter, as Tobias Bonatti ran the ball into the end zone from 9 yards out to tie the score.  Vienna got the ball back with good field position, but were stopped on 4th down in Tirol territory.  Darragh Leader then kicked his second field goal of the game to give the Raiders a 13-10 lead.  But once again, Vienna responded with their own field goal from Dennis Tasic.  The Raiders drove down the field before halftime looking to retake the lead, but quarterback N’Kosi Perry was intercepted by Benjamin Straight to keep the game tied at the break.

Vienna received the kickoff in the second half and methodically marched down the field, capping their drive with a rushing touchdown from Karri Pajarinen.  The Raiders looked to respond with good field position, but on 4th and 3 from the Vikings 20 yard line, the Vienna defense held strong and did not let them convert.  Later in the third quarter, the Raiders offense got the ball in their own territory, but on the second play of the drive, Perry was once again intercepted by Straight, who returned the ball to the end zone for a pick six.  This extended the visitors’ lead to 27-13.

On the following possession, Perry threw another interception, this time to Nikolaus Huszar.  The teams then traded possessions which ended with failed fourth down conversions.  Later, the Raiders had possession when Perry connected with receiver Philipp Haun for a 45 yard touchdown, getting his team back in the game.  However, the extra point was no good, so the score stayed at 27-19.  After a Vienna punt, the Raiders had one more chance to tie the game, but on 4th and 10 in Vienna territory, they ran a play which ended one yard short of the first down marker.  This allowed the Vikings to run out the clock for the victory.

This was a hard-fought rivalry game between two of the better teams in the league.  The Raiders had their chances to pull off the upset against a team that they have never beaten in the ELF.  In fact, they outgained Vienna by 70 yards.  But the key difference in the game was the turnover battle.  Vienna had no turnovers while Tirol turned it over 4 times.  This disparity cost the Raiders the game.

Next week, the Vikings have a favorable home matchup against the Helvetic Mercenaries, while the Raiders have a huge home game against another undefeated team in the Stuttgart Surge.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.