Swarco Raiders win Austrian Bowl XXXIV, beat Dacia Vienna Vikings in thriller

In perhaps the most thrilling Austrian championship game on record, the Swarco Raiders outlasted the Dacia Vienna Vikings, beating the 51-48 in front of 5,500 fans in St. Pölten, Austria to win Austrian Bowl XXXIV.

Thomas Pichlmann kicked the game-winning field goal with three seconds left giving Swarco its fifth Austrian title ever and third since 2015.

Only once before in the 34 year history of the Austrian Bowl has the game been this close. The lead changed hands eight times and the teams were tied three times. It was a game for the ages which saw the two teams combine for 58 second half points and keep spectators glued to their seats until the very end.

Raiders quarterback Sean Shelton completed 14 of 19 passes for 270 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 86 yards and another two touchdowns. Patrick Donahue was his main target and tough for Vienna’s secondary to cover. He caught seven of Shelton’s 14 completions for 160 yards and a touchdown while Fabian Abfalter had one catch for 48 yards and a touchdown and Adrian Platzgummer two catches for 20 yards and a touchdown. Sandro Platzgummer has three receptions for 47 yards while rushing five times for 19 yards. Vincent Müller played a key role, scoring on a pick six as well as a kickoff return. Pichlmann kicked five PATS and the game-winning field goal.

For Vienna, Garrett Safron threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 57 and another touchdown,  Bernhard Seikovits had a magnificent day catching seven passes for 181 yards and a touchdown while Maurice Wappl had eight receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. Other touchdowns came from Reece Horn, Yannick Mayr and Philipp Dubravec. Islaam Amadu rushed for 110 yards. Christopher Kappel kicked six PATs and two field goals.

Photo: Swarco Raiderrs

Vienna took the early lead, scoring on their first possession with Safron finding Wappl from 21 yards out to go ahead 7-0. The Raiders responded with a 74 yard drive capped by Shelton’s first touchdown of the day, tying the game at 7-7.

Kappel kicked a 45 yard field goal to break the tie midway through the second quarter and give Vienna a 10-7  lead. But Shelton responded three plays later with a 48 yard touchdown strike to Abfalter to give Swarco a 14-10 lead. Then Müller intercepted a Safron pass returning it all the way for a touchdown and Swarco extended the lead to 21-10, still in the second quarter.

Safron mounted an eight-play, 75 yard drive connecting with Mayr on a 29 yard touchdown to close the gap to 21-17 at the half.

The second half opened with Safron and the Vikings retaking the lead as Seikovits hauled in a 42 yard pass from Safron for a touchdown making the score 24-21.

Six plays later, Swarco moved back out in front as Shelton found a streaking Donahue for a 49 yard touchdown and the Raiders now led 27-24. Safron answered driving the Vikings 64 yards in four plays, hitting Horn from 26 yards out and Vienna went back out in front 31-27.

That lead lasted for just over three minutes as Adrian Platzgummer hauled in a 10 yard touchdown pass from Shelton and Swarco led again, 34-31.

With just over a minute gone in the fourth quarter, Safron regained the lead for Vienna on a 30 yard touchdown run but Müller returned the ensuing kickoff 58 yards for a touchdown and with just over a minute gone in the fourth Swarco led 41-38.

The Vikings mounted a an 11 play , 53 yard drive that ate up almost six minutes but only came away with a Kappel field goal to tie the game at 41-41.

Shelton responded with a three yard touchdown following a four play, 68 yard drive that included a 56 yard pass and run play from Donahue.

With Swarco holding on to a 48-41 lead with just over two minutes to go, Safron answered finding Siekovits for a 66 yard completion and then Dubravec from nine yards out to tie the game again, 48-48.

Which led to Pichlmann’s heroics.

Shelton ran the two-minute drill in textbook fashion, driving the Raiders down to the Vienna 20 yard line with three seconds left. Pichlmann coolly kicked the 37 yard field goal and Swarco started celebrating.

With the win, Swarco has completed perhaps their most successful season yet. In addition to winning the Austrian title, the Raiders also captured the CEFL/NEFL championship, a tournament which included the national champions from nine different countries. Swarco also defeated the Central College Dutch from Iowa 31-26.

Watch the entire game again here.

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