Hamburg Sea Devils advance to ELF title game for 2nd straight year with gritty win over Austria’s Tirol Raiders

The Hamburg Sea Devils advanced to the European League of Football championship game by taking down the Tirol Raiders from Innsbruck, Austria 19-7 in a defensive struggle.

Hamburg struck first in the first quarter, marching down the field on their opening drive and capping it off with an eight-yard touchdown pass. Surprisingly, that would be their only
touchdown of the game. After the Sea Devils added a field goal at the end of the first quarter, the Raiders found the end zone in the second quarter, as they went into halftime trailing 10-7.

Both defenses stepped up in the second half, but Hamburg’s offense was just a little better.

They kicked three field goals in the second half to make the final score 19-7.

Hamburg QB Salieu Ceesay #1 evading Tirol defender Alex Ferrari

It was no secret that the Sea Devils would build their gameplan around star running back Glen Toonga. Even though the Raiders knew who was getting the ball more often than not, they still struggled containing the British playmaker. Toonga carried the ball 33 times for 178 yards, and also caught a touchdown pass in the first quarter that opened the scoring. Quarterback Salieu Ceesay completed 8 of 15 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown. His top target, Jean Constant, caught five passes for 78 yards.

The Hamburg defense was phenomenal, limiting the potent Raiders offense to single-digit points. They did not force any turnovers, but made big plays all game, especially in clutch situations. They only conceded 4 of 15 third down attempts, and shut down the Raiders offense on all three of their fourth down conversion attempts. Along with Toonga, the hero of the game for Hamburg was kicker Eric Schlomm, who drilled all four of his field goals with a long of 42.

Hamburg defense smothering Raiders QB Sean Shelton

Raiders quarterback Sean Shelton completed 26 of 47 passes for 219 yards and a touchdown. Tirol’s offense was pretty one-dimensional all day, as the team gained just 26 rushing
yards all game. Several receivers contributed in the passing game, but no player gained over 50 receiving yards. Tobias Bonatti caught three passes for 46 yards, while running back C.J.
Okpalobi caught eight passes for 39 yards. The defense did an excellent job of forcing field goals and keeping the Sea Devils out of the end zone, but their efforts were not enough, as it is tough for any team to win a game while scoring just seven points.

The Sea Devils now turn their eyes to the ELF championship game, which will take place on September 25th in Klagenfurt, Austria. Their opponents will be the Vienna Vikings, who defeated the Barcelona Dragons in their semifinal matchup. Hamburg and Vienna have been two of the best teams in the league all season, so it will be a fitting end to a great ELF season

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.