ELF: Madrid Bravos take down the reigning champion Rhein Fire in historic upset

The Madrid Bravos staged what is no doubt the biggest upset in the brief history of the ELF this past weekend when they came into Oberhausen, Germany and handed the defending champion Rhein Fire a 22-10 defeat in front of almost 10,000 stunned hometown fans.

And they did it without their starting quarterback in the second half as Chris Helbig left the game with a serious injury.

The newest members of the ELF entered the stadium as huge underdogs facing a team that had not lost a game since the 2022 season. Undaunted, they took control of the game from the opening whistle keeping the powerful Rhein offense bottled up in their own end and then blocked a punt to get possession of the ball on the Fire 20 yard line. Kicker Alvaro Guitián booted a field goal and Madrid took a 3-0 lead.

With the Bravos defense playing solid football, the offense began to flex its muscles as British running back Dwayne Obi scored with five minutes left in the first quarter bursting through the middle from 14 yards out to extend the lead to 9-0.

Bravos WR Willie Patterson hauling in a pass Photo: Madrid Bravos

Another miscue by the Rhein offense proved costly as quarterback Jadrian Clark was picked off at midfield by Madrid defensive back Jalen Embry who returned the ball to the Fire 40 yard line. Guitián booted another field goal, this one a 29 yarder and the Bravos took a 12-0 lead with two minutes still left in the first quarter.

The second quarter saw the same pattern with the Fire unable to mount a consistent offense. With nine minutes to go in the first half, Helbig marched his team down to the Rhein 19 yard line after a pair of huge completions to wide receiver Willie Patterson. Although they couldn’t convert to a touchdown, Guitián kicked a 36 yard field goal to give his team a 15-0 lead heading into the break.

The second half saw the Fire offense finally gain some momentum and with just over a minute left in the third quarter, Rhein running back Glen Toonga pounded the ball in from the two yard line and the Fire narrowed the lead to 15-7.

With Patterson in at quarterback for the injured Helbig, the Madrid offense was forced to rely more on the run game. However, Patterson threw an interception of his own deep in Rhein territory and Clark finally got the Fire offense to click. He marched his team down to the Bravos 20 yard line and the Fire’s kicker booted a 37 yard field goal reducing the lead to five points, 15-10 with seven minutes left in the game.

That’s when Obi took over ripping off a pair of huge gains including a 37 yard touchdown run to add to the lead making it 22-10.

With two minutes left in the contest, Clark was picked off a second time by Embry to effectively end the game.

With the win, Madrid (2-0) rises to the top of the ELF West conference ahead of the Paris Musketeers (2-0) while the Fire (2-1) drop to third.

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