Hamburg Sea Devils overcome slow start with big 4th qtr to get by Cologne Centurions

The Hamburg Sea Devils moved to 4-4 on the season as they used a strong fourth quarter to overcome a sloppy performance and defeat the Cologne Centurions by a score of 18-14.

Though the Sea Devils entered the game with a losing record, they were expected to easily take care of the Centurions, whose only non-forfeit win of the season came back in week 2 against the Prague Lions.  Hamburg did recently lose starting quarterback Preston Haire for the season due to an injury, but Haire’s absence on Sunday proved to be much more of a challenge than what some thought.  

The game started slowly, as the first quarter was filled with punts.  Hamburg found the scoreboard first in the second quarter, as Eric Schlomm drilled a 37 yard field goal to give his team a 3-0 lead.  That would be the only scoring play of the first half, as both defenses held strong.  Cologne had the ball on the Hamburg 3 yard line at the end of the half but failed to find the end zone as the clock expired.

In the third quarter, an offense finally scored a touchdown as Cologne quarterback Judd Erickson found fellow American Terryon Robinson for a 13 yard score.  Minutes later, the Centurions struck again as Erickson connected with Ben Froelich from 35 yards out to extend their lead to 14-3 near the end of the third quarter.

The Hamburg offense finally put something together in the fourth quarter, as German quarterback Moritz Maack led his team down the field and connected with Benjamin Mau for an 18 yard touchdown.  A successful two-point conversion cut the lead to 14-11.  The Centurions went three-and-out, and Hamburg quickly took the lead as Curtis Slater returned the ensuing punt back for a touchdown to bring the home crowd to their feet.  

On the next drive, Erickson fumbled while being sacked on fourth down, giving the Sea Devils the ball around midfield.  However, Hamburg gave the ball right back, as the Cologne defense forced and recovered a fumble from Malik Stanley.  This gave Cologne the ball in their own territory with about four minutes left as they looked to take the lead.  However, Erickson was intercepted by Kevin Fortes, allowing Hamburg to run out the clock and seal the victory.

The Sea Devils were able to win the game despite entering the fourth quarter with less than 100 yards of total offense.  Cologne was the better team for most of the afternoon, but was unable to come out with the win, thanks in large part to a special teams play.  The Centurions went for it on 4th down a whopping eight times and converted four of those attempts.  Had they been able to pick up a couple more first downs, this game might have had a different outcome.  

That contest was a must-win game for the Sea Devils, who needed the victory to keep their playoff ambitions alive.  However, they have four tough games ahead of them to finish the season, beginning with their next matchup on the road against the undefeated Rhein Fire.  To have any shot of staying competitive, they will need to improve their offense as soon as possible.

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.