Kiel Baltic Hurricanes notch huge come-from-behind win over Dresden Monarchs

DDV Stadium in Dresden was packed with 7,200 roaring Dresden fans Saturday but that did not deter the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes. After finding themselves trailing 21-0 in the first quarter, the Hurricanes dug themselves out, going on to defeat the Dresden Monarchs 49-42 to silence the crowd and take over first place in the GFL North division.

Quarterback Jared Stegman threw for 310 yards and four touchdowns in leading the Hurricanes to a crucial victory leaving them unbeaten with a 5-0 record. Xavier Mitchell caught 11 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns to lead all receivers and made a key fumble recovery deep in Dresden territory. Kiel running back Chris McClendon had a huge day rushing for 207 yards and a touchdown.

On any other day, Dresden quarterback Garrett Safron’s performance  would have helped win the game (270 yards and four passing touchdowns and 105 yards rushing and another two touchdowns). Just not on this day. Sebastian Sagne caught five passes for  112 yards and two touchdowns while his teammates Mike Schallo and Yazan Nassar caught one each.

Still and all, Dresden shocked the Hurricanes scoring on the opening play of the game as Safron hit Sagne for a 69 yard bomb. Then, on the very next series, the Monarchs blocked a Kiel punt recovering the ball on the Hurricanes seven yard line. Safron wasted no time, scoring two plays later and with the game barely two minutes old, Dresden had a 14-0 lead.

The Dresden defense continued its ferocious play, halting Kiel at their own 47 yard line. Five plays later, Sagne scored his second touchdown of the game on a 22 yard strike from Safron. So with just under five minutes still remaining in the first quarter, the Monarchs held a commanding 21-0 lead.

Kiel WR Xavier Mitchell Photo: Kiel Baltic Hurricanes

Then the Hurricanes special teams came up big. Dresden’s William James fumbled a punt return on his own 13 yard line and Xavier Mitchell recovered. Three plays later, Stegman connected with Ofori and Kiel had narrowed the gap to 21-7. Then, gathering momentum, the Hurricanes halted Dresden on a three and out and on the next possession and Stegman connected with Mitchell on a 42 yard touchdown pass and suddenly the gap was down to 21-14.

Safron was not to be outdone taking off on a 69 yard romp on the first play from scrimmage after the kickoff scoring to make it 28-14. However, Stegman, having found his rhythm, marched Kiel on a five play, 75 yard drive, capping it with a six yard touchdown pass to Mitchell, and Kiel was again within one score, 28-21.

It was only halftime and the huge crowd in Dresden had already had their money’s worth

The third quarter offered more spectacular plays. Stegman opened the second half with a 75 yard touchdown bomb of his own finding Diego Sanchez, and suddenly the game was tied, 28-28.

That seemed to spell the end for Dresden. All the things they did right in the first quarter seemed to come back to haunt them in the third as Stegman moved the Hurricanes offense down the field with ease after Dresden’s next drive stalled. McClendon scored on a 27 yard run giving Kiel its first lead of the game, 35-28. Then the Hurricanes special teams forced a Sagne fumble on his own 19 yard line on the ensuing kickoff and McClendon powered his way into the end zone two plays later, and just like that the Hurricanes were in control, 42-28.

Forty seconds in to the fourth quarter, McClendon scored again, this time on an 18 yard run, and Kiel was now firmly in the driver’s seat with a 49-28 lead.

However, the hometown fans were treated to a roller coaster ride of a football game as Dresden mounted a furious comeback, with Safron engineering two straight touchdown drives on the following two Dresden possessions, with scoring passes to Nassar and Schallo. The defense kept the Hurricanes offense in check and the momentum had swung completely with Dresden now trailing just 49-42 with plenty of time left on the clock.

Kiel then mounted a brilliant, non-scoring 36 yard drive, which although short, ate up all but 22 seconds off the clock. Then the Hurricanes special teams trapped the final punt of the game on the Dresden four yard line. Safron’s final pass was picked off and the game was over with the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes earning the toughest win of the season.

Watch the highlights here!

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.