The Istanbul Koc Rams will meet the Sakarya Tatankaları (Bison) in the Turkish Super League Final on Thursday, July 15 at 3:00pm in Istanbul’s Sarıyer district at Yusuf Ziya Öniş Stadium.
The two teams met earlier in the season at Sakarya, with the Rams dominating in a 42-15 bout. The Rams capitalized on five Sakarya turnovers and never let their foot off the gas. QB Quentin Williams accounted for 4 Tds and RB Taha Çokadar added for 105 yds and 2 Tds on the ground.
The Tatankaları come into the final game with their only setback against the Rams. They are sporting a 7-1 record and are fresh off a 31-20 semifinal victory over the ITU Hornets. They also recently claimed the title of the Turkish University Super League Champions. Sakarya boasts the league’s second most prolific offense averaging 28pts/game, led by domestic quarterback Bilguun Altankhuyag and receiver Alp Burak Çamlier. Their defense is also second best in the league giving up only 12.6 pts/game.
The Rams enter the game with an 8-0 record in the Turkish League (8-2 overall) after defeating the Istanbul Yeditepe Eagles 17-16 in a controversial semifinal game. They have two losses in international league play to Serbia’s Kragujevac Wild Boars and Vukovi Beograd in two wire-to-wire Central European Football League match-ups.
The Rams are no stranger to the Turkish League finals, having played in the finals the last four years but only tasting victory once. They look to repeat last year’s success behind the most dynamic offense in league history averaging 38 pts/game. They are led by Quentin Williams under center who has 24 passing touchdowns on the season against only one interception. Receiver Ivan Pavlovic has also been a large factor in the Rams success with 9 Tds in 8 games. The Rams defense is led by linebacker Yusuf Kaan Özbek and Sava Petrovic who have a combined 19 tackles for loss on the season leading the Rams to give up a league best 12.3 average points per game.
It’s highly possible this game could be a repeat of the earlier season match-up, but history would say otherwise. The last three Turkish League Championships have come down to the final minute of play. Additionally, the Rams on-field play in their semifinal game would indicate that they may be in for more of a test than the earlier bout against Sakarya. If Sakarya can manage to limit their turnovers and extend drives they should be able to keep the game close for four quarters, but if the Rams jump ahead by several touchdowns early in the first half, it could be a long night for the Tatankaları.
The Tatankaları defense will have to get pressure on Williams early and force turnovers to get the prolific offense off of their rhythm. They also will need to control the ball, eating up clock to keep the Rams offense off the field. Sakarya seeks its first ever Turkish Superleague National Title, while the Rams look to maintain their status as the premier Turkish league juggernaut, hoping to go back-back in subsequent years.
The game was originally scheduled for the weekend but TRT Sport(Turkish sports media giant) secured broadcast rights to the game and moved it to the Thursday mid-afternoon slot.