Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns down Parma Panthers to win 2nd straight CEFL Bowl

If there were any doubts that the  Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns from Germany would repeat as Central European Football League champions when they took on Italy’s Parma Panthers this past weekend in front of a wildly cheering home crowd, it did not take them long to dispel them.

After spotting the Panthers an early 7-0 lead, Schwäbisch Hall exploded for 30 first half points and then rolled to a comfortable 42-17 victory.

This was the 16th edition of the CEFL Bowl but only the second time the Unicorns have competed in the tournament after winning it in their first appearance in 2021.

Unicorns RB Maurice Schule Photo: Manfred Löffler

However, the Unicorns got off to a slow start and were forced to punt their first possession of the game. The Panthers wasted no time making their presence felt with linebacker Dauson Dales blocking the punt and giving his team excellent field position. Quarterback Brook Bolles capitalized on the short field with a 20-yard scoring pass to Matteo Bonzanni to take a 7-0 lead.

The Unicorns responded on the ensuing drive with quarterback Reilly Hennessey connecting on an explosive 80-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Rutenbeck.  They failed to convert the PAT making the score 7-6. The Panthers went back to Bonzanni, but a fumble by the receiver cut their possession short and gave the opposition the ball at midfield. Hennessey connected on another deep ball this time with Moritz Böhringer to put his offense within striking distance. Soon after, Rutenbeck hauled in his second scoring reception of the game to put his team ahead 13-7. 

Photo: Manfred Löffler

The Panthers were yet again unable to move the chains and handed the ball back to a now red-hot Unicorns‘ offense. It took Hennessey only one play to find his third passing touchdown of the game as Böhringer slips behind the secondary for a 63-yard score. Overwhelmed by the ambitious Unicorns’ offense, the Panthers can’t find any momentum and their drive stalls out quickly. The Unicorns utilized Rutenbeck’s legs with a jet sweep to the outside that allowed him to zigzag through defenders all the way into field goal distance. The Unicorns’ field goal attempt sailed through the uprights to make the score 23-7.

Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns RB Lars Kozlowski Photo: Manfred Löffler

The Panthers’ offense showed flashes of hope on their next drive but couldn’t find the end zone and had to settle for a field goal of their own. The Unicorns continued to rely on Rutenbeck for production as they pushed the ball down the field. A crucial penalty on fourth down allowed the Unicorns to score their fourth touchdown of the half and take a commanding 30-10 lead. 

Unicorns WR Mauritz Böhringer headed for the end zone

The second half was much less eventful with the teams’ quarterbacks trading short rushing touchdowns in the third to maintain the deficit with a score of 36-17. A series of failed drives resulting in punts helped to wind the clock down eventually leading to the Unicorns punching in the final score of the game in a resounding 42-17 win. The home team celebrated their second CEFL Bowl win in as many years and closed out an excellent season. Tyler Rutenbeck’s stellar performance earned him the game’s MVP award, his second time receiving the award. 

Will is a student at the University of Michigan where he is pursuing his Bachelor of Arts degree in Sport Management. He also has experience in professional scouting and hopes to pursue this field after graduation.