LIVESTREAM: German Semifinal – Frankfurt Universe @Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, Sunday, Sept. 29, 3p CEDT (9a EDT)

In a game that has become a heated rivalry in the few short years since the Frankfurt Universe entered the German Football League, the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions will play host to the Universe in the German Football League semifinals for the third year in a row.

These two teams have staged four epic battles since first meeting in 2017. The Lions defeated Frankfurt in the GFL semifinals that year 23-22 and then beat them again by the slimmest of margins in the 2018 Eurobowl final, 20-19. The 2018 GFL semifinals saw the Universe finally get by what had become their nemesis, as they downed Braunschweig 20-17 in a double overtime thriller to reach the German Bowl for the first time ever.

To reach the semifinal, Braunschweig manhandled the Stuttgart Scorpions 70-3 while the Universe defeated the Hildesheim Invaders, 28-7.

These two teams are as evenly matched as they could be.

Team by team numbers

The teams are third and fourth in offense with the Lions producing 416.2 yards a game and Frankfurt 405.9. Braunschweig gave up the fewest yards per game, 219.4 while the Universe allowed 237.7, good for second. The Lions scored an average of 43.7 points per game and Frankfurt 33.7. Braunschweig surrendered a league-low 12.1 points per contest and the Universe 17.3 good for fourth.

The Lions led the league in rushing, averaging 243.3 yards a game while Frankfurt was well behind in that category, with an average of 110.9. But the Universe were the league leaders in rushing yards allowed giving up 45.9 although Braunschweig was second allowing 48.6.

Frankfurt had the second best passing offense in the GFL averaging 294.9 while the Lions were well down the list in 13th with 172.9. Braunschweig boasted the second best pass defense though surrendering 170.8 yards a game. The Universe allowed 191.8, the fifth best record in the league.

The Universe defense had the highest sack total in the country, getting to the quarterback 38 times while Braunschweig recorded 18 sacks. But the Lions gave up by far the fewest sacks in 2019, six. No other team came close. Frankfurt allowed opposing defenses to sack their quarterbacks 30 times.

Key position numbers

 

QB

Braunschweig QB Brandon Connette has led his team to another undefeated season but not by putting up spectacular passing numbers. His efficiency rating though tells another story as Connette may have only thrown for 2,296 yards during the 14 game regular season and quarterfinal win, but he achieved a rating of 184.0 and also rushed for 755 yards and 17 TDs. His counterpart with Frankfurt, Steve Cluley threw for 3,845 yards in those 15 games (third highest in the GFL), averaging 256.3 yards a game but kept his rushing to a mere 94 yards and 4 TDs while getting a rating of 163.7. In other words, Connette was slightly more efficient in his passing game.

In their respective quarterfinal games, the two put up decidedly different numbers. Connette played only a half of football throwing for just 75 yards, letting his running back, Chris McClendon carry the load in a 70-3 blowout over Stuttgart. Meanwhile, Cluley tossed four TD passes while throwing for 282 yards in a 28-7 win over Hildesheim.

RB

The bread and butter of the Lions offense this year has been their run game led by McClendon. He put up impressive rushing yardage, particularly in the latter half of the season. In the 15 games he rushed fro 1,657 yards and 20 TDs and in the quarterfinal win, he had 182 yards rushing and 5 TDs. With his size, 5’11”, 214 lbs, he is tough to bring down. While Frankfurt relied heavily on the passing game, they still have an excellent running back in Justin Rodney. Although Rodney,  at 5’7″, 180 lbs, was not the main ball carrier for Frankfurt to start the year which would explain his numbers (880 yards),  he still gave the Universe a respectable running attack. He had two 150+ yard games during the season but in the playoff game last week only had 16 yards rushing on 5 carries.

WR

Frankfurt has a bevy of top-rate receivers with WR Anthony Brooks as the leader. Although he has had an up and down season he still finished with 1,091 yards and last week against Hildesheim he was Cluley’s main target with 6 catches for 122 yards and 1 TD. Add to this the late addition of  former Purdue Boilermaker/Philadelphia Eagle Anthony Mahoungou from France to the Universe receiving corps. He had 638 yards in eight games, averaging a team-high 79.8 yards a game. Sebastian Sagne and George Robinson give Frankfurt fout outstanding receivers.

Meanwhile, with the Lions focused more on the run game, Lions top WR Christian Bollmann did not get as many passes thrown his way but still led Braunschweig with 598 yards on 36 receptions. In all likelihood, the sure-handed Bollmann will not be called upon much more in the semifinal but, along with teammates Micky Kyei and Jan Hilgenfeldt, he gives Connette reliable targets.

LB

Both teams boast excellent defensive squads and are neck and neck in almost all defensive categories thanks to the play of their linebackers. Lions LB Basil Jackson led his team with 79 tackles and had 2 sacks while Frankfurt’s Kadel King had fewer tackles, 68, but more sacks recording 5 as well as 20 tackles for loss.

Actually, the matchup between King and Lions RB Chris McClendon, will be worth watching.

Sebastian Silva Gomez of the Universe is a ferocious tackler and had 55 for the season as well as eight quarterback sacks. He had nine tackles in the quarterfinal win over Hildesheim. For Braunschweig, an anchor in their defensive front seven is veteran Roni Salonen who had 75 tackles for the year.

This will be another game for the ages.

Watch the game live here. Frankfurt Universe @Braunschweig New Yorker Lions, Sunday, Sept. 29, 3p CEDT (9a EDT)

AFI
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