Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns defeat Potsdam Royals to capture German Bowl XLIII

Photos: M. Löffler & C. Götze

After a crushing defeat in the 2021 German Bowl at the hands of the Dresden Monarchs, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns find themselves at the top of the mountain once again after defeating the previously unbeaten Potsdam Royals 44-27 at Frankfurt’s Deutsche Bank Park in front of 9,000 fans in German Bowl XLIII.

This was the fifth German Football League title for the Unicorns since 2011.

The game nearly started off with a bang as Potsdam wide receiver, Brandon Polk returned the opening kickoff 85 yards untouched into the endzone off a trick play reverse. However, the play was called back for an illegal chop block below the waist.

Although the Royals were not able take the lead within the first 15 seconds of the game as they thought they had, it would only take them five minutes to give themselves a six-point cushion over the Unicorns.

After 15 plays of rushing domination from the combo of QB Robbie Patterson and RB Karri Pajarinen, the Royals found the endzone with a five-yard rush from Pajarinen. They would be unsuccessful however on the following play after attempting a 2-point conversion.

Unicorns QB Reilly Hennessey reaching for a TD Photo: Manfred Löffler

After almost catching the Unicorns off guard at the beginning of the game with their opening kickoff trickery, Potsdam would try to take advantage of Schwäbisch Hall once again with a surprise onside kick. This only benefited the Unicorns however, as Joshua Hoss recovered the onside kick with nothing but green grass ahead of him and took the kick in for Schwäbisch Hall’s first points of the game. After a successful PAT, the Unicorns would lead 7-6.

Potsdam would once again regain their lead after putting together another successful 5-minute drive that would end with them in the endzone. Pajarinen scored on the ground yet again, this time from four yards out to give the Royals a 13-7 lead. However, this would be the last time we see Potsdam put up any points until late in the third period.

The Unicorns went on an offensive frenzy scoring 23 unanswered points over the next two quarters, starting with a six-play, 64-yard drive following the Royal’s score on their previous drive.

Unicorns TE Moritz Böhringer #84

After running the ball every play with contributions from Mikey Alfieri, Maurice Schule and Reilly Hennessey, it would be Hennessey who would cap off the dominant drive, plunging into the endzone from one yard out to give the Unicorns a lead that they would not lose for the rest of the game.

On the following drive, the Royals would put together a few decent plays, getting the ball to the Unicorns 28 yard line. Potsdam passed up on a 45-yard field goal and elected to go for it on fourth down. They were unsuccessful, turning the ball back to Schwäbisch Hall.

At this point, Unicorns’ quarterback Reilly Hennessey would start to show why he deserved to be the player of the game as it would only take their offense another six plays to score, ending with a perfectly thrown back-shoulder fade into the corner of the endzone from 31 yards out.

The Unicorns would try and make it a two-score game but were unsuccessful on a two-point conversion of their own. It did not take Schwäbisch Hall long to regain control as they intercepted Patterson on the first play of the next drive for Potsdam.

Unicorns WR Tyler Rutenbeck #5

After taking the final five minutes of the first half off of the clock, this turnover would lead to Hennessey finding the endzone yet again on the ground as he evaded the pass rush and scampered 10 yards to the end zone with 18 seconds left in the half This gave the Unicorns a 27-13 lead over the Royals heading into the second half.

The Unicorns would get a chance to double up on Potsdam as they would receive the opening kickoff of the second half. However, the Royals were finally able to slow the Schwäbisch Hall offense down, holding them to a 26-yard field goal.

After a Potsdam drive that ended in a turnover on downs and a punt from Schwäbisch Hall, the Royals were finally able to put something together on offense. They drove 75 yards in eight plays, scoring for the first time since the first quarter with a 14-yard pass from Patterson to wideout Sixten Dragan narrowing the gap to 30-20.

However, the 10 point deficit was the closest Potsdam would get to the Unicorns as they would continue to find ways to score.

Schwäbisch Hall extended their lead to 17 points once again as Hennessey found tight end Moritz Böhringer wide open in the flats and he took it 27 yards for a touchdown, making the score 37-20.

Potsdam RB Karri Pajarinen #20

The Royals would not go out without a fight however as they answered with a score of their own on the ensuing drive. Patterson marched his team down to the Unicorns’ three yard line and then called his own number to reduce the lead to 10 points again, 37-27.

However, the Unicorns managed the game and the clock perfectly after that, milking the clock for the rest of the game and keeping the vaunted Potsdam rushing attack off the field.

Hennessey ended a game-clinching, seven-minute drive by throwing his third passing touchdown of the contest, this time to WR Aurieus Minton to make it 44-27 with less than a minute left in the game.

Unicorns HC Jordan Neuman won his 3rd GFL title as head coach since taking over the team in 2017.

Potsdam was unable to pull off a miracle comeback and the Unicorns started celebrating.

Reilly Hennessey was named Player of the Game after his four touchdown performance. In fact, Schwäbisch Hall had only one non-scoring drive the entire game.

Although Potsdam came into the game as the #1 offense in the league, they were no match for the #1 defense in the GFL.

Noah Costantino is a student and football player at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. Fueled by his love for the game he looks to continue his knowledge of football at an international level. He is majoring in Communications with a