Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants post statement victory over SsangYong Danube Dragons thanks to career outing from WR Darrell Adams

After parting ways with head coach Martin Kocian after six years with the team, the Projekt Spielberg Graz Giants needed to make a statement.

A 31-0 win over the Mödling Rangers in their first week under new leadership was a fine start but reasserting their status as a legitimate playoff contender would require a bigger announcement. They found their platform against the Danube Dragons on Saturday.

After falling to the Dragons by a commanding 35-16 margin in their first matchup this season, the Giants convincingly flipped the script this week with a 40-14 victory.

A statement game requires a statement performance and the Giants received that and more from receiver Darrell Adams. The former Azusa Pacific stand-out had a career outing, hauling in 11 passes for an incredible 270 yards and four touchdowns. Making use of his impressive balance and catch radius, Adams couldn’t be corralled by a struggling Danube defense when targeted on the outside.

Giants QB Conor Miller threw for 346 yards and 5 TDs Photo: K&K Photography

The game began relatively evenly matched, with Florian Bierbaumer and Philip Haun trading receiving touchdowns early in the first. Danube took a 7-6 lead out of the opening frame thanks to an errant snap on Graz’s extra point attempt, but the Giants soon took control of the contest.

Quarterback Conor Miller led a nine-play, 80-yard drive culminating in a nine-yard strike to Adams for his first touchdown of the afternoon. Running back Dominik Mattes got Danube into the redzone in response but was stuffed on fourth down by Leo Thosold. Miller got the chains moving again with an easy 43-yard toss to Adams and Lars Kozlowski ended the half with an one-yard rushing touchdown.

Danube put together an 11-play drive to start the third quarter but an offensive pass interference penalty erased a Philip Haun touchdown catch and the Giants wasted no time in expanding their lead. Miller rolled out to his right and uncorked for Adams, who was once again in behind coverage for a 60-yard score to make it 27-7.

Dragons quarterback Chad Jeffries took back the momentum with another long drive, beginning the fourth quarter with a five-yard touchdown toss to Byron Rhone at the pylon. A Leon Heidinger interception later in the frame added some intrigue for Danube, but Stefan Promitzer stole the ball right back for the Giants and there would be no last minute comeback.

A fortunate deflection on the ensuing drive allowed Adams to haul in an 11-yard touchdown in double coverage and the star receiver wasn’t finished. Needing one first down to end the game on the final series, Adams caught the pass at the mark and broke the first tackle in the process, racing up field for a 47-yard score to place an exclamation point on his team’s 40-14 win.

Giants RB Lars Kozlowski Photo: K&K Photography

With Adams firing on all cylinders, quarterback Conor Miller needed only to play point guard and dish to the hot hand. He finished 20 of 30 passing for 346 yards, five touchdowns and one interception, with only 76 yards not ending up in the hands of the import pass catcher. Lars Kozlowski added nine carries for 43 yards and a score along the ground, while Juwan Haynes and Thomas Schnurrer led the defense with 8.5 tackles each.

For the Dragons, Chad Jeffries finished 23 of 39 for 238 yards, two touchdowns and one pick in a respectable outing. Philipp Haun and Felix Reisacher each had five catches for 78 and 76 yards respectively, while Haun added a touchdown. Dominik Mattes carried 14 times for 104 yards as the team’s top offensive performer, while Jun Jie Gao had another strong defensive showing with 6.5 tackles.

With the victory, the Giants have pulled even in the standings with Danube at 2-2 on the year and now hold the edge in point differential. The two teams are unlikely to meet again this season but the result has serious playoff seeding implications.

With Adams and Miller finding their chemistry, Graz is a dangerous offense for any team to face and they’ll have a chance to prove it when they meet the top-ranked Dacia Vienna Vikings in two weeks time.

Photos: K&K Photography

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.