Frankfurt Universe edge Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in double OT thriller; advance to German Bowl XL

In their third season in the German Football League, the Frankfurt Universe have finally reached the title game – German Bowl XL – by defeating 11-time champions, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions 20-17 in double overtime.

The Universe, who came oh so close in 2017, pushing the Lions to the limit in the semifinal round, finally found a way this year.

Frankfurt had only lost two games this year, by the smallest of margins, to the reigning German champions and Europe #1, the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns. They have survived financial despair and silenced the doubters.

On Saturday night in Braunschweig they proved for the second time in a week, that they could also win a close game. Last week they beat the Berlin Rebels 6-5 in the last few seconds of the game.

This week they forced two overtime periods and picked off a Lions pass and then kicked a field goal to secure the historic win.

With two of the best defenses in Europe facing two of the best offenses, the game promised to be a war, and it lived up to its promise.

Neither team could move the ball effectively in the early going. But midway through the first quarter, Braunschweig struck as veteran running back David McCants hauled in a 12 yard pass from Jadrian Clark to give the Lions a 7-0 lead. That lead lasted only until the next series as Frankfurt quarterback Andrew Ellfers drove the Universe down to the Lions 12 and then connected with George Robinson to tie the game at 7-7.

Frankfurt’s defense Photo: Fabian Uebe

Both defenses dominated the second quarter with neither team able to gain any offensive momentum. It took a 44 yard field goal from the toe of Lions kicker Tobias Goebel to break the tie and after Frankfurt kicker Marius Duis missed from 47 yards out, Braunschweig went into the break leading 10-7.

The third quarter resembled the second with neither team gaining an edge. Entering the fourth quarter, the Lions remained in front 10-7.

Ellfers marched his team down to the Braunschweig 26 yard line behind the running of Joe Bergeron, a beautiful catch by Tim Thomas and a late-hit on the quarterback penalty. Duis made no mistake this time, tying the game with a 43 yard field goal.

Deadlocked at 10-10 at the final whistle, the two teams lined up for overtime with Ellfers and the Frankfurt offense scoring first. Sebastian Gauthier caught a 12 yard pass to put Frankfurt ahead 17-10.

Braunschweig replied with Clark finding Niklas Römer for a nine yard scoring strike to tie the game again, 17-17.

The second overtime period was decisive.

Frankfurt’s defense made the play of the game, picking off a Clark pass intended for Christian Bollmann. Then the offense did the rest, reaching the five yard line from where Duis kicked his second, and game winning, field goal.

Frankfurt head coach Brian Caler:

“What a great game! I am so proud of our players and our staff. This accomplishment truly is a TEAM accomplishment. One more to go!”

Frankfurt advances to German Bowl XL on October 13 where they will face their arch nemesis, the Schwabisch Hall Unicorns, a team they have not been able to beat.

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