LIVE STREAM – German Semifinal: Braunschweig New Yorker Lions ready to rumble against Kiel Baltic Hurricanes

The German semifinals kick off with a bang this Saturday as the three-peat champions the Braunschweig New  Yorker Lions will play host to the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes in one of the two games.

This is a matchup which most would have thought easy to predict a year ago. The Lions have dominated American football in Germany for the past three seasons. Kiel has been a perennial playoff team but has not advanced past the semifinals since 2012.

This year is different though. The two clubs have faced each twice this season. The first game ended in a 10-10 tie while the Lions scraped by in the second 24-21.

This one promises to be a beauty.

Braunschweig finished the year first in the German North with an 11-1-2 record while the Hurricanes wound up third in the North at 10-3-1.

In last week’s quarterfinal game against the Allgäu Comets, Braunschweig came away with a relatively easy 30-6 win while Kiel played outstanding defense to beat the Frankfurt Universe 10-3.

Lions quarterback Casey Therriault, has found his championship form it seems. Last week against the Comets he threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns. In Therriault’s three games since returning in place of the injured Grant Enders he has thrown for 882 yards and eight touchdowns.

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Quarterback Logan Schrader has been steady for the Hurricanes offense throwing for 2,942 yards and 32 touchdowns. But he has also added another 711 yards on the ground. Last week against a tough Universe defense he struggled though, completing just 4 of 11 passes for a measly 10 yards.

He will be in tough this week against a Braunschweig defense that gave up just 12 points per game. In the two meetings against the Lions this year, Schrader was 25 of 56 for 281 yards and three touchdowns. But he was also picked off three times.

Kiel has not relied as heavily on the passing game but Xavier Mitchell has been the leading receiver for Schrader with 55 catches for 799 yards on the season.

Lions receiver Jan Hildgenfeldt has been a great addition to the offense after moving over from Dresden in the offseason. Last week, he made life difficult for Allgäu’s secondary with eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Evan Landi added 63 yards on five receptions and Nicklas Roemer caught three passes for 59 yards and another touchdown.

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Chris McClendon has been Kiel’s go-to rusher this year. He finished the season with 1,623 yards and 17 touchdowns but in his last four games he averaged 220 yards rushing per game with a high of 339 yards and five touchdowns against the Hildesheim Invaders. He ran into a brick wall last week against Frankfurt gaining only two yards. But do not count him out.

Holland’s Chris Smith has led the Lions all season in rushing, becoming the ideal complement to David McCants. His 1,298 yards led the team. Last week though, veteran Jabari Johnson stepped in rushing for 128 yards.

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The Lions rely on defense by committee with defensive back Durell Givens and linebacker Sorie Bayoh leading the team in tackles. Defensive lineman Mamadou Sy makes it difficult to run up the middle on Braunschweig. The Hurricanes look to linebacker Thiadric Hansen who recorded 121 tackles to lead their defense.

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This game between these two northern German rivals promises fireworks. Kiel made it here by relying on defense when the offense has sputtered. Braunschweig’s defense is among the league leaders in every category. It will be a game to remember.

Braunschweig New Yorker Lions v. Kiel Baltic Hurricanes – Saturday, Sept. 24 6p CET (12p EDT)

Roger Kelly
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.
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