German Semifinals: Head to Head Analysis – Braunschweig New Yorker Lions v. Frankfurt Universe

For the third straight year, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions and Frankfurt Universe will face each other in the German Football League semifinals.

These two teams have staged four epic battles since first meeting in 2017. The Lions defeated Frankfurt in the GFL semifinals that year 23-22 and then beat them again by the slimmest of margins in the 2018 Eurobowl final, 20-19. The 2018 GFL semifinals saw the Universe finally get by what had become their nemesis, as they downed Braunschweig 20-17 in a double overtime thriller to reach the German Bowl for the first time ever.

This year’s matchup promises more edge-of-your-seat action.

Check out our head-to-head analysis of the team’s at key positions and decide for yourself.

Quarterbacks

Braunschweig QB Brandon Connette has led his team to another undefeated season but not by putting up spectacular passing numbers. His efficiency rating though tells another story as Connette may have only thrown for 2,296 yards during the 14 game regular season and quarterfinal win, but he achieved a rating of 184.0 and also rushed for 755 yards and 17 TDs. His counterpart with Frankfurt, Steve Cluley threw for 3,845 yards in those 15 games, averaging 256.3 yards a game but kept his rushing to a mere 94 yards and 4 TDs while getting a rating of 163.7. In other words, Connette was more efficient in his passing game. However, the late addition of  former Purdue Boilermaker/Philadelphia Eagle Anthony Mahoungou from France to the receiving corps has bolstered an already potent group, giving Cluley another first rate target. In their respective quarterfinal games, the two put up decidedly different numbers. Connette played only a half of football throwing for just 75 yards, letting his running back, Chirs McClendon carry the load in a 70-3 blowout over Stuttgart. Meanwhile, Cluley tossed four TD passes while throwing for 282 yards in a 28-7 win over Hildesheim.

Cluley will be facing the second best pass defense in the league while Connette and his backfield teammates will be doing battle against the best rushing defense.

Advantage: Even

Running backs

This would seem to be an easy comparison to rate with McClendon putting up impressive rushing yardage, particularly in the latter half of the season. In the 15 games he rushed fro 1,657 yards and 20 TDs and in the quarterfinal win, he had 182 yards rushing and 5 TDs. With his size, 5’11”, 214 lbs, he is tough to bring down. Justin Rodney, at 5’7″, 180 lbs, was not the main ball carrier for Frankfurt to start the year which would explain his numbers. While he only rushed for half of the yardage roughly, 880, he still gave the Universe a respectable running attack. He had two 150+ yard games during the season but in the playoff game last week only had 16 yards rushing on 5 carries.

Advantage: Chris McClendon

Wide Receivers

Frankfurt WR Anthony Brooks has had an up and down season but still finished with 1,091 yards and last week against Hildesheim was Cluley’s main target with 6 catches for 122 yards and 1 TD. Meanwhile, with the Lions focused more on the run game, Lions top WR Christian Bollmann did not get as many passes thrown his way but still led Braunschweig with 598 yards on 36 receptions. In all likelihood, the sure-handed Bollmann will not be called upon much more in the semifinal but, along with teammates Micky Kyei and Jan Hilgenfeldt, he gives Connette reliable targets. Still, the edge goes to Brooks and the Universe receivers.

Advantage: Anthony Brooks

Linebackers

Both teams boast excellent defensive squads and are neck and neck in almost all defensive categories thanks to the play of their linebackers. Lions LB Basil Jackson led his team with 79 tackles and had 2 sacks while Frankfurt’s Kadel King had fewer tackles, 68, but more sacks recording 5 as well as 20 tackles for loss. Actually, the matchup between King and Lions RB Chris McClendon, will be worth watching.

Advantage: Even

The Lions and Universe will play the second GFL semifinal, Sunday, September 29 at Eintracht Stadion in Braunschweig. The game will be livestreamed on AFI.

 

 

 

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