The Amsterdam Crusaders, the reigning Dutch champions, earned the first berth into the EFL Cup final Saturday with a stunning 65-19 whitewashing of the Hamburg Huskies from Germany.
The Crusaders had already defeated the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes 31-24 earlier in group A of the six-team round robin tournament so the win advances Holland’s titleholders to the final.
On the hottest day of 2016, the Crusaders took a 28-19 halftime lead and then scored 36 unanswered points in the second half to advance.
Running back Sean Richard rushed for 325 yards on 19 carries and four touchdowns while hauling in a touchdown pass from quarterback Allan Bridgford for his fifth to lead Amsterdam. Bridgford threw three touchdown passes and scored another one himself on the ground.
Hamburg was hampered by the fact that they were playing without their American quarterback Jordan Perry who had injured his knee in German league competition.
The Huskies actually took the lead twice though during the first half and kept pace with Amsterdam with backup quarterback Kevin Jauch tossing two touchdown passes and running back Jonathan Perkins rushing for a third.
The wheels fell off the wagon for the Huskies in the third quarter however as Bridgford began to connect with receivers Dylan von Gerhardt and Revilinho Graanoogst. Richard picked up where he left off in the first half taking his explosive running game to both the heart of the Huskies’ defense as well as the flanks and finding ample daylight both inside and outside.
The Crusaders defense had all the answers in the second half and shut out the Huskies offense. Jauch had difficulty connecting with his receiving corps and often found himself under constant pressure from Crusaders defenders such as Yusef Rogers and Ingram Sarpong. The Crusaders capitalized on the field position given to them by the defense, helped immensely by the punt returns of Ananias Semedo.
The game was capped when Amsterdam linebacker Kevin Bourne took a Huskies’ fumble into the end zone for the final touchdown.
The Crusaders win Group A with improbable wins against two strong German teams and will wait to see which challenger for the EFL title game emerges from Group B which will be decided on May 28 in the match between the Frankfurt Universe from Germany and Spain’s Badalona Dracs. The Universe blanked the Thonon Black Panthers from France 48-0 Saturday.