Overtime deja vu earns Søllerød Gold Diggers top seed in Denmark

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Playing from behind entering the fourth quarter, the Søllerød Gold Diggers clawed their way into a tie with the Copenhagen Towers and finished strong in the extra frame to pull off an overtime comeback victory and seize sole possession of first place in Denmark.

If that lede feels like deja vu, that’s because it was the exact set of circumstances that occurred on June 19 when the two Danish leaders met for the first time in 2021. More than two months later, the Gold Diggers played a convincing repeat of their greatest hit and ensured they’ll enter the Nationalligaen playoffs as the top seed thanks to a 27-26 overtime win.

After a Marcus Boesen sack stopped the Gold Diggers’ opening drive, the Towers played their part in the reenactment and drew first blood just as they did in June. Quarterback Randall Schroeder looked deep and found Jacob Green with a step on the defense for a 42-yard touchdown strike, before Anton Witmeur came up short on the two-point attempt.

A spectacular leaping interception from Kenneth Larsen-Ledet was the only highlight for the rest of the initial frame, but Søllerød got their response early in the second. Quarterback Andreas Sølling went deep on 3rd-and-14 and found Simon Fons in the center of four Towers‘ defensive backs. The receiver bounced off the first contact and past the outstretched arms of the remaining defenders, pulling away for a 68-yard touchdown.

Gold Diggers QB Andreas Sølling Photo: Mikkel Rasmussen/1st Down Photo

The Gold Diggers took a single point lead with the point after, but it wasn’t to last long. Schroeder led a long drive in response, using his top two receivers to work his way down the field. Set up in the redzone, the quarterback found Mike Williams on a five-yard out to retake the lead and Green added the easy plus two to make it 14-7.

That was put in jeopardy before the break thanks to a 42-yard contested catch from Fons that set Søllerød up inside the Towers‘ 10-yard line with seconds left in the half. However, Sølling didn’t see Magnus Bitsch drop into coverage underneath and the defender killed any hope of a tie at intermission with a timely interception.

Copenhagen didn’t have similar luck to begin the second half. After three straight incompletions on their opening drive, Jakob Baekgaard was sent on to punt but pressure got upfield quickly at the snap and he was wrapped up for a massive loss by Logan Dykstra. The Gold Diggers took over and workhorse back Christian Vahl soon punched in a five-yard score, though a blocked PAT from Philip Hargett maintained a one-point lead for the Towers.

Schroeder answered by throwing a pick to Edin Mahmutovic, but the Søllerød drive was silenced near the goal line with a Joachim Heidelbach sack. The Towers then got moving once again thanks to a healthy dose of Mike Williams, who got his squad in position with a 20-yard catch and then caught a 15-yard fade to extend the lead early in the fourth. However, Anton Witmeur was held inches short of the two-point conversion for the second time in the game and that play would soon prove fateful.

The ensuing kickoff was fielded by Simon Fons deep in his own end and the receiver started to his left, before spinning off the first man downfield and reversing field to the right. With nothing but space in front of him, Fons ran 92 yards to paydirt, setting up the game-tying convert.

Both defenses stepped up from there and each produced critical stops in plus territory, but Søllerød would get one last chance at a regulation victory. After Copenhagen was forced to punt with under a minute remaining, Sølling got the team moving and Helson Jouffroy put his team in a first-and-goal situation with a spectacular catch and hurdle. After Sølling couldn’t connect on three throws to the endzone, the Gold Diggers surprisingly opted not to try the 26-yard field goal attempt for the victory. Instead, the result was a delay of game penalty and another overthrown ball in the endzone to force overtime.

Towers WR Mike Williams #10 Photo: Mikkel Rasmussen/1st Down Photo

The Gold Diggers would get the ball first in the extra shootout and wasted no time, scoring on their very first play. Christian Vahl took the ball off the left tackle and exploited a pair of fantastic blocks from pullers Kevin Schmalz and Jens Jensen to waltz 25 yards untouched to the endzone.

Needing a touchdown to stay alive, the Towers finally did something they failed to do the first time these two teams played and manage to answer back in overtime. Schroeder moved his team down to the seven-yard line and then dropped and found Williams for the touchdown to reduce the gap to 27-26.

Knowing that a convert would only extend the contest, Copenhagen gambled for the win with a two-point attempt and couldn’t stop history repeating itself. David Tawake broke on Schroeder’s final pass for the game-clinching interception, securing the 27-26 victory.

While complete statistics are unavailable due to some gaps in the livestream, running back Christian Vahl was the standout for Søllerød, carrying 20 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns, including the winner. Speedster Simon Fons was also a difference-maker, catching two passes for 110 yards and a touchdown to go with his return touchdown. Quarterback Andreas Sølling was 14-of-29 passing for 252 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, with Helson Jouffroy catching a team-leading six catches for 82 yards.

On the losing side, quarterback Randall Schroeder was 26-of-44 for 278 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. It was his pair of talented receivers who helped drive the offense, as Mike Williams had 10 catches for 97 yards and three scores and Jakob Green was close behind with five catches for 80 yards and one touchdown.

Both teams will now have a week off before the Danish playoffs, where the Gold Diggers will now have the number one seed thanks to their 5-1 record. Copenhagen remains a comfortable second seed at 4-2, hoping that a potential third shot at Søllerød in the Mermaid Bowl will finally have a different ending.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.