The Amsterdam Crusaders from the Netherlands made a resounding statement Saturday defeating the defending EFL champions, the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes from Germany 31-24 in overtime in Kiel.
They told the rest of Europe that they are for real.
The Crusaders have been one of the preeminent teams in Holland for many years, but each foray into European competition has been unsuccessful in recent years.
With an American quarterback, Allan Bridgford, and a brand new attitude, Amsterdam jumped out to an early 16-7 lead and then had to come from behind in the second half after falling behind 24-16.
Linebacker Kevin Bourne had two touchdowns on interceptions in the first half, and Bridgford threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to Jasper Nijland, and then found running back Sean Richards from 23 yards out to seal the win in overtime. Tyrone Vreede added a field goal.
Head coach Winston Ronde had obviously prepared his team well and their dominance of the Dutch league this season was a warning to the perennial playoff contender in Germany, Kiel, that the Crusaders should not be taken lightly.
The packed crowd at the stadium in Kiel was treated to a game full of action, excitement and drama. And just over a week into his job, Kiel’s new head coach Marcus Herford was definitely put to the test.
After taking an early 7-0 lead on an interception of a Bridgford pass, the host Hurricanes were stunned by Amsterdam. Bourne’s defensive play put the Crusaders into the lead, but Kiel scored two second-half touchdowns on a recovered fumble by Falk Horn and a Logan Schrader to Xavier Mitchell touchdown pass.
That set up the last minute dramatics with Bridgford hitting Nijland from nine yards out to tie the game with no time left on the clock.
Amsterdam now faces the other team in the group, the Hamburg Huskies, on May 7. The Hurricanes play the Huskies April 23.
In the other group, Spain’s Badalona Dracs have beaten the Thonon Black Panthers from France (46-41) and will now play the Frankfurt Universe May 28. The Black Panthers face the Universe May 7.