The defending champion Dacia Vienna Vikings (9-2) take on their nemesis, the Swarco Raiders (9-2) at St. Polten, Austria in Austrian Bowl XXXIV, July 21.
This will be the 12th time these two teams have met to decide the Austrian Bowl and seventh time in eight years. The Vikings have won four of the last seven titles and Swarco three.
In the two meetings between the two teams in 2018, Vienna won the first encounter 35-28 early in the season. The Raiders handed Vienna a lopsided 55-13 defeat later in the year but the Vikings were without the services of starting quarterback Garrett Safron at the time.
The Vikings took care of business against the Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants in the Austrian semifinals by scoring 21 first quarter points and then rolling to a 35-21 victory.
The Raiders defeated the Danube Dragons in their semifinal. Swarco took a 28-14 halftime lead against the Dragons and never let up in the second half to roll to a 49-21 win.
In Vienna, quarterback Garrett Safron was back to full strength following his midseason injury, and threw for 243 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 65 yards. Receiver Reece Horn caught six passes for 153 yards and three touchdowns while Bernhard Seikovits caught four for 66 yards and a touchdown. Ugochukwu Uwakwe also scored on a pick six in the first quarter.
Swarco’s win over Danube marked the ninth time in 10 years that the Raiders have advanced to the Austrian final.
The Raiders also took a 28-14 lead at the half against Danube on first half touchdowns by Tobias Bonatti (2), Filip Vlajic and quarterback Sean Shelton. The Dragons battled back with a 34 yard touchdown catch by Phillip Haun.
However, leading 28-21, Shelton and the Raiders offense responded with touchdown passes to Adrian Platzgummer and Patrick Donahue to pull out to a 42-21 lead entering the fourth. Shelton marched Swarco down to the Dragons 10 yard line and found Patrick Donahue for his second touchdown and sealing the win.
Swarco Raiders QB Sean Shelton wound up as the 3rd leading passer in Austria with 2,594 yards and a league best 34 TD passes. Saffron threw for 1,878 yards and 28 touchdowns after missing a number of games.
The leading receiver for the Vikings was Reece Horn with 46 catches for 723 yards and 15 touchdowns. Patrick Donahue led Swarco catching 27 passes for 614 yards and eight touchdowns. Safron led his team in rushing with 669 yards while Sandro Platzgummer was the top rusher for Swarco with 588 yards.
These were the two leading defensive teams in the Austrian Football League in 2018. The Raiders allowed 20.9 points a game while Vienna gave up 23.4.
These two teams are as evenly matched as possible.