The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns scored 13 unanswered second half points to defeat the stubborn Frankfurt Universe at OPTIMA Sportpark in Schwäbisch Hall Saturday to remain unbeaten and in sole possession of first place in the German Football League South division.
An enthusiastic crowd of over 3,000 looked on as the Unicorns fell behind 14-5 in the first half as Frankfurt quarterback Jaleel Awini made an impact. This was only his third game with the Universe and he made life difficult for the Schwäbisch Hall defense in the first half.
Unicorns quarterback Marco Ehrenfried threw two touchdown passes, one each to Jo Jo Joyner and Tyler Rutenbeck, but he was also picked off three times by a ball hawking Universe defensive secondary. Tim Stadelmayr kicked a 25 yard field goal and the defense forced a Frankfurt safety to account for the Unicorns scoring.
Frankfurt was led by Awini who scored on a three yard run and threw a 33 yard touchdown pass to Silas Nacita. Andre Feuerherdt kicked both extra points for Frankfurt.
This was a game of defense as two of the best in Germany were on display.
Frankfurt held the advantage in the first half as Awini constantly eluded Unicorns defenders. He opened the scoring late in the first quarter capping a long drive with a three yard touchdown run to give Frankfurt a 7-0 lead.
The Schwäbisch Hall defense managed to force a safety to narrow the lead to 7-2.
However, the Universe offense kept pressing but without finding the end zone.
The only highlight for the Unicorns offense was a 49-yard pass from Ehrenfried to Tyler Rutenbeck early in the second quarter, which brought Schwäbisch Hall down to the Frankfurt 8-yard line. They had to settle for a 25 yard Stadelmayr field goal to creep closer, 7-5.
Finally, late in the first half, Awini found Nacita for a 33 yard touchdown and Frankfurt went into the break up 14-5 and seemingly in control of the game.
Unicorns head coach Jordan Neuman proved to be a master of halftime adjustment though.
Playing a ball control game, Ehrenfried kept his passes short and handed off to running backs Danny Washington and Maurice Schüle. Within four minutes, Ehrenfried found Joyner for a two yard touchdown pass and Schwabisch Hall narrowed the gap to 14-12.
With the Unicorns defense stepping up, momentum seemed to shift. Daniel McCray picked off Awini four minutes later and three plays after that Ehrenfried hit Rutenbeck for a 43 yard touchdown giving the Unicorns an 18-14 lead they would not relinquish.
With the Unicorns offense managing the clock, the Unicorns defense then did the rest, picking off Awini again and giving Schwäbisch Hall their toughest win of the year.
Unicorns head coach Jordan Neuman:
“Frankfurt’s game plan has made it very difficult for us. In the second half, we were better able to adjust. The bottom line we saw a game with a high level of defense and two very strong defenses, and I’m glad we could win it in the end.”
Despite the loss, Frankfurt head coach Markus Grahn was proud of his team’s effort:
“I have to compliment my team. In the ten years I’ve been working, this was the hardest game we’ve ever played. We will take this experience with us and build on it. “