The Braunschweig New Yorker Lions definitely made a statement Saturday in defeating the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes 44-26 and taking over sole possession of first place in the German Football League’s North division.
They told the league and the rest of Europe that they were still the team to beat. Kiel entered the game with a string of six straight wins and hopes of dethroning the reigning German champions. The Lions dashed those hopes.
Casey Therriault completed 18 of 25 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Running back David McCants carried the ball 15 times for 111 yards and another score (his 100th in Europe) while Jabari Johnson added two more rushing touchdowns. Nathaniel Morris caught both touchdown passes from Therriault while Lars Steffen returned an interception for a touchdown. Tobias Goebel kicked four PATs and a field goal.
Kiel quarterback Jared Stegman had a tough day against the best defense he has faced all year, completing only 13 of 32 passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 54 yards. Running back Chris McClendon, the leading rusher in Germany, kept powering all game long against the Lions front seven and gained 136 yards rushing and scored a touchdown. Tim Albrecht kicked a field goal and an extra point.
The Lions took charge early holding Kiel to a total of five first downs in the first half while scoring on all three of their possessions with McCants and Morris scoring touchdowns and Goebel kicking a field goal. Kiel’s only points came after a turnover when otherwise sure handed Braunschweig receiver Jan Hilgenfeld fumbled a punt return and five plays later Albrecht kicked a field goal. Braunschweig held a 17-3 lead at the half.
The Lions kept up the pressure in the third quarter, scoring on a Johnson one yard plunge capping an 11 play, 64 yard drive. Another Hurricanes miscue provided Therriault and the Braunschweig offense with another opportunity to score and they grabbed it. A blocked punt gave the Lions the ball on the Kiel 19 yard line and five plays later Therriault found Morris in the end zone. With two minutes left in the third quarter, New Yorker led 31-3.
However, the Hurricanes were not done yet. Xavier Mitchell gave Kiel excellent field position on the ensuing kickoff. Then McClendon went to work single-handedly marching the Hurricanes down the field finishing the drive off with a 26 yard touchdown run.
The Lions responded with another textbook drive with Johnson scoring his second of the game from a yard out, restoring the 28 point lead early in the fourth.
Stegman then engineered a a nine play, 75 yard drive, finishing it with an 18 yard touchdown pass to Mitchell to close the gap to 38-18 with six minutes left. After finally getting a stop on the Lions offense, the Hurricanes mounted another drive but Stegman was picked off seven plays later by Steffen and Braunschweig jumped ahead 44-18.
A final touchdown by McClendon on a pass from Stegman did little to ease the pain of such a tough loss.
Braunschweig now hits the road for three straight again with the third game against the Hurricanes on July 29.