Team Austria claims decisive win over Serbia in European Championship

The penultimate weekend of the IFAF European Championship saw Team Austria claim a dominant 48-6 victory over Serbia.

With the win, Austria will now face Team Denmark to decide fifth place in the European Championships.

Austria set the tone early and never let up. On the opening play, Dacia Vienna Vikings running back Florian Wegan was let loose, ripping the Serbian defense for 24 yards. Quarterback Alexander Thury (Danube Dragons) continued to march the team downfield with a pair of timing routes before Wegan pounded the ball in from the one and the home team took a 7-0 lead.

This was the first of many textbook drives for Austria resulting in scores.

Serbian quarterback Andrej Tasic came out slinging, but his receivers had trouble holding onto the ball resulting in a three and out which gave the ball back to Austria. Starting from midfield, Wegan went back to work, gashing the defense over and over again. Thury then found his Danube Dragons teammate, wide receiver Philipp Haun for two straight completions before Wegan capped the drive off himself on a draw from the 10, upping the score to 14-0.

The second Serbian drive demonstrated the physicality of the Austrian defense. Their bullish nature led to a pair of key penalties, however, keeping the Serbian drive alive. And then from the Austrian 25-yard line, Tasic dropped back, gave a pump, and launched the ball in the direction of wide receiver Tihomir Todorov who managed to get some separation and dived in the endzone to secure Serbia’s one and only touchdown of the game, narrowing the Austrian lead to 14-6.

Austria took no more chances after that and came back on the ensuing kickoff with an 85-yard touchdown return from Yannick Mayr making the score 21-6.

After a Serbian turnover on downs, Austria went straight back to work, leaning heavily on Wegan, before Thury connected with big Graz Giants tight end Florain Bierbaumer (#89) who snagged a touchdown pass in the corner of the endzone on a 20-yard fade.

Austria went into the break leading 28 – 6.

Tasic came out in the second half continuing to look dangerous, moving Serbia down to the Austrian 26-yard line behind consecutive pass completions. However, the drive stalled on a fourth and one and Austria took over.

Dacia Vienna Vikings’ young and talented backup quarterback Nico Hrouda started the second half and mounted an excellent 71 yard, five-play drive. After Hrouda found Mayr for a 10 yard gain, he handed the ball off to Wegan who simply carried on where he left off in the first half pounding the ball for a 22-yard pickup. Hrouda hit Haun for a 22 yard gain and then finished the drive with a beautifully thrown 20-yard fade to Huan for the first Austrian touchdown of the second half, widening the lead to 35-6.

The second score was far wackier.

Two possessions later, after an uncharacteristic punt from the Austrian side, Serbia was trapped deep in their own zone at the 14-yard line. On a  third and 14 play, Tasic rolled out to the right, drew back, and simply dropped the ball when setting up for a pass. The ball hit him on the shoulder and bounced into the hands of pursuing defender Lucky Efosa Ogbevoen who, living up to his name, simply romped into the end zone to bring the score to 42-6 in the closing seconds of the third quarter.

Following another stalled drive from Serbia, Austria then got the Swarco Raiders running back Lukas Haslwanter involved. On a third and one from the Austrian 46, he ran straight up the gut, hurdled a defender, and broke off a 54-yard touchdown run to round off the scoring at 48-6.

On their final possession, Serbia and starting quarterback Tasic, fought valiantly, refusing to give up despite the large score deficit but could not move beyond their own zone. The day truly belonged to Austria as they put on display the level of football their country has on offer.

Austria’s starting quarterback Alexander Thury completed seven of 11 passes for 103 yards and one touchdown while his backup Nico Hrouda threw for 49 yards and a score on three of seven passing. Florian Wegan has 13 carries for 102 yards and two touchdowns while Lukas Haslwanter rushed for 63 yards and another score. Philipp Haun had five receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown, Yannick Mayr caught four passes for 49 yards and Florian Bierbaumer had one catch, a 17-yard touchdown reception.

For Serbia, Andrej Tasic was 10 of 20 for 148 yards passing and a touchdown while Filip Vlajić carried the ball 14 times for 15 yards. Tihomir Todorov had four catches for 82 yards and Serbia’s lone touchdown while Petar Bajalica caught four passes for 51 yards.

With the win, Austria atones somewhat for the surprise loss to Team Italy in the qualification rounds, preventing the team from reaching the IFAF European Championship Final Four for the first time since 2005.

 

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who has worked in B2B journalism and comms in the third sector; with experience in both education and human rights. He has played football for the London Warriors for the last 15 years as well as the