Søllerød Gold Diggers dig deep for comeback overtime victory over Copenhagen Towers

The deepest gold mine in the world, TauTona Mine in South Africa, plunges to a remarkable depth of more than 3.9 kilometers below ground level. It may soon have a rival, as the Søllerød Gold Diggers had to dig much deeper to pull off a come-from-behind 36-30 overtime victory in Denmark on Saturday.

Down 12 points to the first place Copenhagen Towers at the start of the fourth quarter, the Gold Diggers refused to relent until the game was tied and struck early in overtime to take their first lead of the ball game. It was cornerback Ajdin Djurdjevic who played hero, batting away a potential Towers‘ touchdown pass with an outstretched left arm and corralling his own deflection on the way to the ground for a the game-clinching interception.

Long before Djurdjevic’s acrobatics, Copenhagen looked every bit the pre-game favorite. They struck early on their first drive with quarterback Randall Schroeder dropping the ball in for Jakob Green for a 38-yard touchdown, with Marcus Boesen adding the two-point attempt. Søllerød answered back quickly, with Aaron Ellis finding Simon Fons in behind coverage for a 33-yard score and a Jonathan Nielsen two-point conversion to match, but the rest of the opening frame was all Towers.

Michel Konate brought the ball near mid-field on the ensuing return and Schroeder connected with Green for 30 yards while absorbing a roughing the passer penalty. With the yardage tacked on, Anton Witmeur went seven yards off tackle to paydirt and Konate added the two. A Joachim Heidelbach sack soon forced a Søllerød punt deep in their own end, but before Ellis could attempt the pooch kick he was swallowed by Mads Nielsen and Marcus Boesen. Schroeder trotted back out to deliver a strike to Magnus Jensen, who spun off a defender for a eight-yard touchdown and made it 22-8 at the end of the first quarter.

Gold Diggers QB Aaron Ellis #6 Photo: Jakob Vels, Gold Diggers

The Gold Diggers clawed back some momentum early in the second. Ellis delivered the ball through a tight window to Jonathan Nielsen for a 39-yard gain, then Christian Vahl broke outside for a 23-yard run. Spaniard Eduard Molina powered in for a seven-yard score and Nielsen hauled in the conversion, but the team would soon be back on the back foot.

A short Søllerød kick-off backfired and the Towers took over in fantastic field position. Big tight end Oliver Tribler rumbled for 30 yards to get the ball in scoring position and Jakob Green capped it with a five-yard sideline score, though the two-point attempt fell short. The Gold Diggers marched again, but a fourth down catch in the endzone from Nielsen was ruled out of bounds and they entered the break down 28-16.

Both sides held each other scoreless for the third quarter, but the Gold Diggers’ special teams unit opened the fourth with a game-changing play. Logan Dykstra came through the line cleanly to block a Green punt and big David Strobel scooped up the ball, rumbling 45 yards for the touchdown.

The two-point attempt was no good and the Towers failed to score in response, but Green pinned a perfect punt on the one-yard line as redemption and David Helqvist burst through to tackle Vahl for the safety on the next play.

Now down eight with time of the essence, the Gold Diggers drove at their first opportunity. Aided by a 15-yard penalty against the Towers, a theme throughout, Ellis found Frederik Oldenburg for 19 yards near the pylon to make it first and goal. Eduard Molina soon punched it in for his second score and Phillip Holm brought in the crucial two-point conversion to tie the game at 30.

The Towers went three and out in the final minute and Ellis mounted a last ditch drive, but Green knocked the ball down in the endzone as time expired to send the game to a deciding extra frame.

Copenhagen Towers O lineman Kristoffer Greeen-Rasmussen #54 and TE Mikkel Enevoldsen #11 battling Photo: Jakob Vels, Gold Diggers

Søllerød got the ball first in the shootout and wasted no time taking the lead. Christian Vahl burst 25 yards up the middle on the first play, shedding a contingent of tacklers for the touchdown. However Ellis’ pass was too high for Oldenburg on the convert attempt, leaving the door open for the Towers to steal the win. That door slammed closed two plays later. Looking for Green, Schroeder threw a rope down the sideline but the coverage was too tight and Ajdin Djurdjevic sealed the 36-30 win with his acrobatic highlight.

The game-clinching interception was a rare blemish for Randall Schroeder, who finished 16 of 29 passing for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns.  Jakob Green was impactful as usual, catching five passes for 90 yards and a pair of scores, while Michel Konate contributed 10 carries for 47 yards on the ground. Marcus Boesen was a presence on defense with three sacks.

The Gold Diggers got the job done on the ground, led by workhorse Christian Vahl who carried 14 times for 132 yards and the winning touchdown. Eduard Molina also had a pair of scores and Aaron Ellis gained 70 yards on seven scrambles. The quarterback went 16 of 28 passing for 202 yards and a touchdown through the air as well, with Jonathan Nielsen leading the receiving corps with three catches for 75 yards.

The resilient effort from Søllerød places the underdogs atop the Danish standings as the league’s lone unbeaten team, knocking off a Towers club that dominated each of their first two games. The Gold Diggers will get a chance to cement that positioning next week with a win over the surprisingly winless Triangle Razorbacks, while Copenhagen will have to wait until August for redemption.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.