SBB Vukovi Belgrade and Carlstad Crusaders Advance To IFAF Europe Champions League Final

SBB Vukovi Belgrade 35 – London Blitz 28

CLFinalFour - Vukovi v London

In the first IFAF Europe Champions League semifinal game at Belgrade’s FK Vozdovac stadium, Serbia’s SBB Vukovi Belgrade, playing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, were pushed by a scrappy London Blitz squad who would not go away but eventually succumbed 35-28 after Vukovi jumped out to a fourth quarter 35-14 lead.

Vukovi quarterback Myles Gates used his legs and his arm scoring one touchdown and throwing for two while running back and game MVP Mihailo Josović rushed for two scores as the Blitz defense at times had no answer for Belgrade’s speed.

Vukovi opened the scoring as Gates took the ball in from 10 yards out, but Blitz quarterback Joe Thompson found receiver Andrew Cropper for a seven yard touchdown pass to even the score at 7-7. Two series later, Josović found a seam off tackle and scampered 32 yards for his first major giving Belgrade the lead again 14-7. London running back Temi Oduyemi responded with a 10 yard touchdown run of his own to tie the score at 14-14 early in the second quarter.

Then after a tight defensive struggle, late in the second quarter Belgrade receiver Tony Washington caught a Gates pass, eluded to two defenders and raced for a 68 yard touchdown putting Vukovi back out in front at the half 21-14.

Gates & Co. took over in the third quarter as the Blitz seemed to sag from the travel to Belgrade and the 36 degree (97 degree F) heat. Belgrade’s offense started clicking and London had no answers as Josović scored on a four yard run and then late in the third caught a 15 yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 35-14.

CLFinalFour - Vukovi v London2

With the Blitz still reeling early in the fourth quarter, their defense brought them back into the game as defensive back Sam Joseph picked off an errant Myles Gates pass deep in Vukovi territory and returned it 15 yards for the major closing the gap to 35-21. Then, Blitz backup quarterback Josh Adamson took the ball in himself midway through the fourth from eight yards out and London was back in the ball game with the score 35-28.

That was as close as they would come though despite holding off a Vukovi offense in the late stages and mounting a successful stand in the red zone. Their offense finally wilted and Gates took a knee to mark Vukovi’s second trip to the Champions League final in as many years.

Carlstad Crusaders 41 – Thonon Black Panthers 6

CLFinalFour - Carlstad v Thonon

The Carlstad Crusaders totally dominated France’s Thonon Black Panthers from start to finish in the second game of the day taking an easy 34-0 first half lead and then coasting in the second en route to a 41-6 victory over the Black Panthers. This was the second year in a row that Thonon has been eliminated in the semifinals of the CL Final Four.

Crusaders quarterback Anders Hermodsson threw three touchdown passes and running back Brett Koepp ran for two more as Carlstad scored seemingly at will throughout the first half.

The Crusaders scored on the first drive of the game as Hermodsson found Jakob Dahre for a 32 yard touchdown. And then the rugged Koepp rumbled for 50 yards for the game’s second score as Carlstad took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter. The Panthers single wing offense sputtered as the Crusader front seven stuffed most plays in the Thonon backfield. Quarterback Billy Greene had a rough night and Thonon running back Stephen Yepmo found no room to run as the physical Carlstad defense was relentless.

CLFinalFour - Carlstad v Thonon2

Thonon’s long snapper will be having nightmares after this game as he sailed one snap over the head of punter Bill greene deep in the Black Panthers end resulting in a Carlstad score on the ensuing drive. Later in the first half, he bounced a snap off the head of one of the upbacks on a punt giving the Crusaders great field position again, leading to another Carlstad touchdown.

With the score 34-0 at the start of the second half, Carlstad opened the second with another Koepp touchdown and in the searing heat the mercy rule with a running clock was agreed upon by both teams. Thonon running back Milton Knox Jr. finally put the Black Panthers on the board with a three yard run to round out the scoring.

The IFAF Europe Champions League Final is scheduled for Sunday July 26.

Story info: IFAF Europe.

Photo credit: IFAF Europe







Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.