Despite a 40-point effort by the Swedes, the reigning Champions are headed to Vienna as finalist!In a game that was supposed to be lopsided, Germany breathed a sigh of relief by finally vanquishing the stubborn Swedes 52-40, in the European American Football Championships final match of Group A play. With the win, Germany sealed a berth in the championship final on Saturday. The crowd at St. Polten, Austria was treated to an evening of terrific action in a see-saw battle between two explosive offenses, with the outcome not being decided until late in the game.
The Germans exploited Sweden’s weakness against the running game with tailback Danny Washington putting on a clinic for the ages. Washington scored six (!) touchdowns, rushing for 276 yards on 23 carries. Sweden’s defensive line and linebackers were constantly caught off guard by his cutback and counter moves while Germany’s huge offensive line gave him room to see the openings that at times were gaping.
Time and again, when Germany struggled offensively, they would hand the ball to the diminutive Washington and watch him scamper down the field using his blazing speed to outrun the Swedish defenders.
Germany took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter although Sweden had thrown a scare into Germany opening the game with a drive getting two straight first downs, behind the running of Sebastian Gauthier. But once Germany gained possession of the ball on their own 22 yard line, on the arm of quarterback Marco Ehrenfried (13 of 29 for 229 yards) and running of Washington they began a methodical drive taking them to Sweden’s 39 before Washington slipped outside and took off for his first TD.
Sweden responded driving down to Germany’s 15 yard line as starting quarterback Phillip Juhlin (13 of 29 for 170 yards and three touchdowns) found his receivers. An Interception in the end zone by Leonard Green stopped the Swedes though. Then, starting from their own 20, Germany marched down to Sweden’s one yard line with Ehrenfried calling his own number taking the ball in for the second German score late in the first quarter.
This time Sweden’s offense came to life as Juhlin found his receivers taking Sweden from their own nine down to Germany’s 14 before finding Marcus Johnsson in the end zone for a touchdown. In a strange move, Sweden went for a two-point conversion and failed. This was only midway through the second quarter.
Germany took over and again Washington showed his speed, hitting a hole and taking off on a 55 yard touchdown run making the score 21-6 for Germany.
Sweden came back with its own drive as Juhlin mixed up his play calling and from the German 18 found tailback Jonathan Wikström on an 18 yard touchdown pass for the team’s second score. But Ola Kimrin missed the PAT making the score 21-12 in favor of the Germans.
Again Germany answered as Ehrenfried began picking apart Sweden’s secondary, finally finding N. Römer for a 62 yard passing play. Danny Washington capped the drive with a one yard touchdown run extending Germany’s lead to 28-12. The crowd was truly enjoying this back and forth battle.
Sweden’s special teams flexed their muscles in the third quarter as they partially blocked Jan Hilgenfeldt’s punt on the German 16 yard line recovering at the 22. Two plays later receiver Amat Jobe scored a 29 yard touchdown from Juhlin, closing the gap to 28-20 after a successful two-point conversion.
Then Danny Washington took the game over again leading Germany on a nine-play, four minute long drive finishing it with another touchdown, this time from the one. With the score now 35-20 Germany seemed clear of problems but Sweden’s special teams stepped up again forcing Germany’s punter into a short punt off the side of his foot, taking over the ball at Germany’s 27. Three plays later Wikström took the ball in from 15 yards out and after another failed two-point conversion attempt, the lead was reduced to 35-26 with just over three minutes left in the 3rd. Germany picked off Juhlin on his own 25 which led to a field goal for the Germans.
Taking over on their 25 yard line with 10 minutes left in the game Sweden moved the ball down the field behind the running and passing of Anders Hermodsson, who replaced an injured Phillip Juhlin. Germany forced Sweden to punt but special teams made another big play sripping the German returner of the ball at the German 10 yard line and two plays later, Hermodsson hit Fredrik Isaksson for a six yard score bringing Sweden to within five with the score 38-33.
But Germany picked off a Hermodsson pass deep in their own territory and Danny Washington left no doubt, hitting a seam and taking off for a 76 yard touchdown for a 45-33 German lead with five minutes left. Another interception from Hermodsson gave Germany the ball with two minutes left and Washington sealed the game with a 32 yard touchdown run. Sweden managed to score one more time with less than a minute to go but it was too late. The final score was Germany 52 Sweden 40.
Leading rusher for the game was Danny Washington (276 yards and six touchdowns) and Marcus Ehrenfried lead all passers with 229 yards. Top receiver was Germany’s Niklas Römer who had eight receptions for 174 yards. Sweden’s two quarterbacks combined for 276 yards in the air.
This game was by far the best and most entertaining of the tournament and gave Sweden at least a measure of pride on the flight home although they lost both of their games. Germany will now face the winner of the game between Austria and France Wednesday night which promises to be a terrific battle.
Sweden’s “running game by committee” – Wikstrom, Forsman, Gauthier and Hermodsson – added 166 yards on the ground at times giving Germany fits with their fiery play. Jonathan Wikstrom was a powerhouse at times and his two touchdowns (one on the ground and one in the air), were a key factor for Sweden.
Full Statistics: Germany v. Sweden