IFAF U19 European Championship: Austria advances to gold medal final with convincing win over Denmark

Team Austria dismissed the first threat to their IFAF U19 European Championship title this past Thursday with a convincing semifinal win over Denmark.

Austria entered the game as the defending champion having won the 2019 title.

After a scoreless first quarter, Austria closed out the half with impressive offensive efficiency that earned them a 16-0 lead. Their domination over this game wouldn’t be stopped there however as their lead built to 23-0 before they eventually conceded their only touchdown of the game, making the final score 23-7. 

This game began slowly for both teams as they traded punts and turnovers throughout the first quarter. The second quarter began with Austria at midfield looking to take control of the game by drawing first blood. Running back Raphael Komeyli-Birjandi worked the ball downfield with several strong rushes before fellow ball carrier Noel Bernsteiner barreled his way into the end zone for the team’s first score. A potential response from Denmark fell short as Austrian defender Kevin Stanisi punched the ball out of the hands of Denmark’s Oscar Daniel Calov following a pass reception at midfield and recovered the fumble. 

Austria worked quickly to build off of their momentum as quarterback Elias Zaricin hit Fabian Eder with a bulleted pass over the middle for a 33-yard gain. Now deep within Danish territory, the Austrian offense worked went back to a ground attack. On fourth and goal from the one, Austria’s risky decision to go for it ends up paying big dividends as running back Nils Keimel plunges into the end zone to give his team a comfortable 13-0 lead. 

Another stop from Austria’s tough defense gave them possession back but with only two minutes left on the clock before halftime. Zaricin managed the time well and rallied his offense to keep the throttle forward. Despite their offense clicking on all cylinders, driving 80 yards in two minutes, the clock forces them to settle for a 33-yard field goal with two seconds left and kicker Mathias Maxa makes good to give his team a 16-0 lead at the half. 

The third quarter mimics the first as both teams came out of the tunnel with low energy and a lack of concentration. Austria’s offensive production was held to a pair of punts and a turnover on fourth down whereas Denmark continued their struggles with two punts of their own to go along with another fumble. 

The fourth quarter opened with Austria looking to get back to business with the ball in enemy territory. A well-placed ball down the left sideline from Zaricin leads Nils Keimel to an easy 17-yard touchdown grab to give them 23 unanswered points. The Austrian defense then forced Denmark to turn the ball over on fourth down on both of their ensuing drives. 

While Denmark’s offense remained completely out of sorts, the defense stepped up as defensive back Emil Ebbe Brich took matters into his own hands by coming down with a tipped ball and taking it all the way into the end zone to narrow the lead to 23-7.

The late effort was not enough for the young Danish team though as Austria finished the game with nearly four times the number of yards racking up 405 yards of offense to Denmark’s 107 while holding the Danish squad to only six first downs.

With the win, Austria moves on to face Team Sweden on Sunday. The Swedes downed Team France 31-21 in the other semifinal to set up a repeat of the 2019 U19 European title game between Austria and Sweden.

Will is a student at the University of Michigan where he is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Management. He also has experience in professional scouting and hopes to pursue this field after graduation.