Swarco Raiders mount fourth quarter comeback for big win over Prague Black Panthers in Innsbruck

After a tumultuous period of preparation for Austrian football the cross border Prague Black Panthers had finally made it to their first game after a national lockdown just weeks prior. But after a defeat in Danube the Black Panthers were eager to stick it to the Austrian powerhouse Swarco Raiders in their own house.

Swarco were set to receive the first kick-off and a great return by Lukas Haslwanter (#24) put them in favorable field position to begin the game. Sean Shelton (#12) immediately went to work on the Black Panthers secondary but resilience and sure tackling from their defense forced a punt early in the drive. With a slightly awkward pooch Shelton kicked it 45 yards rolling down to the Black Panthers one-yard line.

Prague were able to get off their one-yard line but not much more and a physical raider D forced a three and out giving Swarco great field position.

The Raiders got things going straight away with a 20-yard run from RB Romed Zangerle (#13) but after a stout defensive effort by Prague the Raiders were forced to kick a 20-yard field goal to make it 3 – 0.

The following Black Panther drive saw a modicum of success and was forced to punt again but not before punting from the halfway line pinning Swarco in their own five. With three-and-outs from both sides and a game of football ping pong it looked as if defense was ruling the day until an escape act from Shelton freed up some room before dumping it off to Nicholas Tagwerker (#22) who ran 45 yards flipping the field on Prague. Again the Black Panther defense refused to break, forcing Swarco to try a field goal that sailed wide to the left.

Swarco WR Marco-Schneider Photo: Flo Mitteregger

On the ensuing drive, Prague QB Zach Greenlee (#4) decided to get North Carolina Central University alumni Nolan Corpening (#7) into the game to get the team going. After a long screen and two questionable PI calls, the Black Panthers were in the redzone. Then on a back shoulder fade to Corpening, Prague were able to get on top of the Raiders late in the half – 7 – 3.

On the next drive, a sack and some hustle from Prague’s D forced a three and out giving the ball back with two minutes to go but the Black Panthers were happy to run the clock down and go into half up 7 – 3.

Prague came out in the second half with the same grit and determination as in the first marching their way down the field after a play action bomb to Kamil Roba (#3) to set them up on the one-yard line. All that was left was for power-back Ladislav Jensik (#21) to run straight up the gut putting the Black Panthers ahead 14 – 3.

Another good return on the kick-off by Zangerle put the Raiders in great starting field position but were forced to punt after another defiant defensive stand by Prague who simply refused to allow Swarco back into the game. 

After a negligible Black Panther drive Shelton scrambled out of the pocket spinning out of one tackle before being blasted in the back mid-spin by LB Jan Krs (#8) sending him out the game, but only for a few plays. Shelton came back with a renewed sense of purpose and on fourth-down at the halfway mark Shelton converted on a hitch-route giving the Raiders the spark they needed to mount a comeback. Enter Marco Schneider (#4) – proving integral in the second half – who ran the ball in off a 35-yard screen but a failed two-point conversion left the score at 14 – 9.

Swarco RB Romed Zangerle – Photo Flo Mitteregger

Prague had troubles moving the ball the next drive after a few dropped passes and a pocket that started to collapse fast. The Raiders capitalized on this with Shelton going on a mission from deep in his own half  slicing and dicing the Black Panthers defense before a 20-yard strike to Schneider down the seam to put the Raiders in front 15 – 14 after another failed two-point conversion.

Prague took the field with seven minutes to go in the game but were still unable to mount any attack and punted again after three downs. The next Raider drive went just at the previous one, marching down the field until Shelton ran it in himself from the ten-yard line.

On the very first play of the ensuing Black Panther drive, Swarco DB Arno Schwarz (#16) picked off Greenlee putting the final nail in the coffin for the Black Panthers and tying up an enthralling fourth-quarter comeback which Swarco hopes will propel them into next week’s matchup against the Rangers.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.