The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns scored two unanswered second half touchdowns to pull away from the Dresden Monarchs downing them 30-13 in front of almost 3,200 fans at Optima Sportpark in Schwäbisch Hall and advance to their sixth straight German Bowl and eighth since 2011.
The Monarchs were just as advertised and gave Schwäbisch Hall all they could handle for almost three quarters before surrendering two game-clinching touchdowns in the space of two minutes midway through the second half.
Schwäbisch Hall’s defense did the rest while the offense played ball control football the rest of the way to secure another trip to the German title game.
Unicorns quarterback Jadrian Clark completed 15 of 21 passes for 257 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 50 yards and another score. Nate Robitaille, Aureius Adegbesan and Andre Feuerherdt all caught touchdown passes while Tim Stadelmayr kicked a field goal and three extra points.
For Dresden, Glen Cuiellette threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns with Cheikhou Sow and Kevonn Mabon each catching touchdown passes.
Dresden struck first though late in the first quarter as Cuiellette drove his team to midfield and then hit Mabon for a 44 yard touchdown with just over a minute left in the quarter to give the Monarchs a 6-0 lead.
The Unicorns finally got on the board two minutes into the second quarter with a 34 yard Stadelmayr field goal capping a 55 yard drive.
As the Monarchs offense stalled early in the second, Clark engineered a textbook, nine play, 60 yard drive, finishing it with a three yard touchdown strike to Adegbesan and Schwäbisch Hall moved out in front 10-6.
The Unicorns defense kept Cuiellette bottled up and Clark went back to work, taking his team from his own 36 down to the Dresden four yard line in three passing plays and then punched the ball in himself with less than two minutes left in the second quarter to increase the lead to 16-6.
The Monarchs finally responded as Cuiellette marched Dresden from their own 35 yard line to the Schwäbisch Hall seven and then hit Sow to narrow the lead to 16-13 at the half.
Schwäbisch Hall opened the second half in the worst possible fashion, first getting trapped inside their own 20 yard line and then watching a Adegbesan punt travel only 20 yards to give Dresden the ball on the 39.
Cuiellette moved his team down to the 11 yard line and the Monarchs looked primed to take the lead. But the Unicorns defense made a stand, forcing a field goal attempt from the 23. The ball sailed wide and Clark and the Schwäbisch Hall offense took over. Six plays later, Clark connected with Feuerherdt for a 53 yard touchdown. Stadelmayr kicked the extra point and suddenly the Unicorns held a two-score lead, 23-13.
On Dresden’s very next drive, Unicorns linebacker Nicolas Knoblauch pounced on a Cuiellette fumble caused by cornerback Adehkeem Brown on the Monarchs 45 yard line. Two plays later, Robitaille hauled in a 43 yard touchdown pass from Clark and the Unicorns took a 30-13 lead with less than a minute gone in the fourth period.
Dresden reached the Unicorns 30 yard line on the next series but a fourth and four attempt failed and Schwäbisch Hall took over. Clark marched the Unicorns down to the Dresden eight yard line, eating up almost six and a half minutes. Although they didn’t score, Dresden was left with only two minutes left.
Cody Pastorino picked off a Cuiellette pass four plays after that effectively ending the game.
Although the win was not as decisive as expected from many, Schwäbisch Hall made big plays when they needed to.
The Unicorns will now take on the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions in German Bowl XLI, marking the fifth time in six years these two teams have faced each other in the final. The Unicorns have won one of the previous four encounters but have won the last two title games.