Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns Remain Undefeated; Advance to German Bowl for Third Straight Year

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns proved they have a defense to go along with their high-powered offense and they used that, plus an incredible 100 yard kickoff return, to dash the hopes of the Germany’s top offensive team, the Dresden Monarchs in German semifinal action Saturday, beating them 35-26 at Optima Sportpark in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany.

The win was the 16th straight this year in Germany for the Unicorns and the second time in two years they have ousted the Monarchs in the semifinals.

A capacity crowd enjoyed a spectacular football game as conditions were perfect. The stage was set for a football battle royale and the two teams did not disappoint.

Like two heavyweight boxers trading blows, the Unicorns and Monarchs put on a performance for the ages.

With the Unicorns leading receiver Tyler Rutenbeck, sidelined with an injury, Patrick Donahue shouldered much of the load, hauling in a 12 yard pass for a touchdown and adding another on a 100 yard kickoff return following Dresden’s final touchdown. Rutenbeck’s absence also gave 6’8″ Aurieus Adegbesan a huge role as well and quarterback Marco Ehrenfried used it to full advantage.

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Aurieus Adegbesan pulling in a pass from Marco Ehrenfried Photo: Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, Manfred Löffler

Much credit must go to offensive coordinator Jordan Neuman who retooled the offense placing greater emphasis on the run. Running back Anthony Bilal was equal to the task rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown.

The Unicorns defense pressured Dresden quarterback and playmaker Brandon Connette all game. In the first half, the unit forced four three and outs and held the Monarchs league leading offense to just seven points.

In fact, according to Dresden head coach John Leijten, that was the ball game:

“The Unicorns gave our offense many problems today. The 14 point deficit in the first half was too much for us.”

Schwäbisch Hall took a 21-7 lead in the first half on touchdowns by Adegbesan, Bilal and Ehrenfried, the last one capping a long drive late in the second quarter. Monarchs leading receiver Sebastian Sagne did score but that was the only scoring Dresden could muster.

The Monarchs opened the second half with more energy. Florian Finke kicked the first of two field goals and then Hendrik Hinrichs hauled in a 17 yard touchdown pass from Connette to pull within 21-17 in the third quarter.

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The record crowd enjoyed themselves Photo: Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, Manfred Löffler

Donahue then scored his first of two touchdown giving the Unicorns an 11 point cushion which was crucial with Dresden’s offense beginning to click. The Monarchs responded as running back Donald Russell finally got loose and scored on 54 yard scamper. The failed PAT left the score 28-23. Then Finke hit another field goal, this one from 37 yards out and suddenly this was a two point ball game in of Schwäbisch Hall , 28-26, midway through the fourth quarter.

Donahue then stuck a final dagger into the hearts of the Monarchs, taking the ensuing kickoff from his own end zone the entire length of the field and scoring giving Schwäbisch Hall a 35-26 lead but more importantly, killing Dresden’s hopes.

So the Unicorns move on to the German Bowl for the fifth time in six years where they will face the Braunschweig New Yorker Lions for the third straight year. The Lions downed the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes 35-21 in the other German semifinal game.

Roger Kelly
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.
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