The Samsung Frankfurt Universe, Europe #5, (8-2) were put the to test Sunday in Marburg, Germany but finally defeated the Marburg Mercenaries (5-5) 26-19 in German Football League late season action.
It was an important road win for Frankfurt who sit second in the GFL South conference behind the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns. Frankfurt is now clear for the playoffs with four games left in the regular season.
The Universe had trounced Marburg earlier in the year 63-7 but this game was far different. Frankfurt had to come from behind trailing 9-0 after one quarter and taking a narrow 10-9 lead at the half.
A pair of second half touchdowns, one delivered by the defense, along with a field goal secured the win for Frankfurt. Marburg crept to within three points late in the third quarter, 19-16, but an early fourth quarter touchdown and last minute interception were the difference.
Frankfurt quarterback Andrew Ellfers, still getting familiar with his team, in only his fifth game with the club, thew for 198 yards and one touchdown while George Robinson had seven catches for 65 yards and a touchdown. Tim Thomas hauled in six passes for 69 yards and David Giron four for 25. Running back Andreas Betza had another big day rushing with 101 yards and a touchdown. Kweishi Brown had a third quarter interception which he returned for a 32 yard touchdown. Marius Duis kicked a pair of field goals and two extra points.
For Marburg, new quarterback Zac Cunha, did not have a great day under relentless pressure from the toughest pass defense in Germany. He completed just 10 of 29 passes for 115 yards and no touchdowns. Wide receiver Philip Lanieri was his favorite target with six receptions for 102 yards. Running back Silas Nacita was a one-man show for the Mercenaries, with 16 carries for 130 yards and both touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 48 yards, returned two punts for 14 yards, two kickoffs for 45 yards totaling 237 yards in total offense. And he punted six times for 187 yards. Kristof Szakacs kicked a field goal and a pair of extra points.
Nacita scored on Marburg’s first possession, punching the ball in from the eight yard line. The defense, playing ferocious football, trapped Betza in the end zone for a safety midway through the first quarter giving the Mercenaries a surprising 9-0 lead.
Frankfurt’s offense finally started to click early in the second quarter with Betza completing an 80 yard drive with a two yard touchdown, closing the gap to 9-7.
A 49 yard Duis field goal midway through the second quarter gave Frankfurt the lead and they went into the break up 10-9.
With both defenses now playing well, Duis added a field goal and then Brown nabbed a Cunha pass, returning it 32 yards for a touchdown to give Frankfurt a 10 point cushion, 19-9.
Then the always-dangerous Nacita found a seam for Marburg and raced 72 yards and suddenly the score was 19-16 heading into the fourth quarter.
Betza and the Universe offense responded though. Betza carried the ball three times for 47 yards, taking Frankfurt to the Mercenaries’ 32 yard line. Ellfers found Robinson for a touchdown and the Universe increased the lead to 26-16.
A poor Frankfurt punt gave Marburg the ball in Universe territory and five plays later Szakacs kicked a 27 yard field goal to narrow the gap to 26-19.
That was as close as they would come.
Frankfurt defensive back Joshua Poznanski ensured the win the a midfield interception with a minute and a half to go.
With the win, Frankfurt improves to 8-2 while the fourth place Mercenaries drop to 5-5 with four games to go for both teams.
Frankfurt head coach Brian Caler was proud of his team:
“They made some personnel changes and that really helped them. I think they finally played to there abilities. got some turnovers early and it just kind of kept their fire ignited. Our guys in the end did a good job of finding a way to fight through adversity and found a way to win. The game kind of showed our team character a bit. I am proud of the way they hung in there together.”