Turkey: Sakarya Tatankaları Steadfast in Gritty Win over Boğaziçi Sultans

There were four games on tap in the top league in Turkey last weekend. The Sakarya Tatankaları were steady in downing the Boğaziçi Sultans while the Yeditepe Eagles defeated the ODTU Falcons. Also, the ITU Hornets blanked the Gazi Warriors and finally the Hacettepe Red Deers were forced to forfeit their game against the Koç Rams due to a lack of players.

Sakarya Tatankalari (3-1) 23 @ Bogazici Sultans (1-3) 16

The Boğaziçi Sultans, last year’s TAFL runner-up and perennial powerhouse in Turkey came into the game vs. Sakarya facing mathematical playoff elimination. The Sultans shockingly have found themselves in uncharted territory as they were playing for the hope to stay alive against a very strong Sakarya Tatankalari team. Both teams had dropped their previous games to the Istanbul Koç Rams (4-0), but were looking for redemption on Saturday.

Early in the first quarter,  neither team could find the end zone and it seemed like the game was headed for a defensive struggle. The Sultans managed to put together an offensive drive capped off with an Eren Yüzbaşıoğlu rushing touchdown. Later in the first Sakarya answered with a drive of their own, resulting in a passing touchdown from quarterback Bilguun Altankhuyag to receiver Alp Burak Çamlıer to tie the game up right before the half.

In the second half the Sultans came out firing as quarterback Nick Liebelt found Kubılay Ceylan for the go ahead touchdown. On the ensuing drive, again the Tatankalari responded finding pay dirt again as quarterback Altankhuyag hit receiver Ozan Ceylan . The extra point attempt for Sakarya was blocked and returned by the Sultans defensive back Tyrone Jenkins for two points to bring the score to 16-13 with the Sultans claiming the narrow lead. The Tatankalari added a crucial field goal to close out regulation to tie up the game.

In overtime, Sakarya struck first with a pass from Altankhuyag to Ömer Saruhan that put them ahead 23-16. Boğaziçi found itself with an opportunity to prove their playoff worth needing only a score and an extra point to defeat Sakarya and keep their playoff hopes alive, but the perennial powerhouse fell short on four downs as Sakarya safety Ali Gündoğdu make a clutch tackle to stop the Sultans, resulting a the gritty win for the Sakarya Tatankalari.

Sakarya moves to 4-1 with the win over the Sultans. Their playoff outlook has them in the driver’s seat for the second seed in the playoffs with a chance to claim first seed.

Meanwhile, the Boğaziçi Sultans find themselves outside playoff contention for the first time in over a decade and with two more games left in the regular season will be looking to find some answers for how to rebuild themselves into the perennial contenders they once were.

Yeditepe Eagles (3-1) 26 @ ODTU Falcons (2-1) 6

The Yeditepe Eagles defeated the ODTU Falcons 26-6. The Eagles defense suffocated the game Falcon offense with outstanding efforts from linebackers Uğurcan Yılmaz and Atakan Krand and defensive end Jeron Jones. Eagles quarterback  Austin Stubbs accounted for three passing touchdowns, two to receiver Mert Gerek and one to tight end Flex Yavuz Akaydın. Running back B Chris Elliot also contributed with an extra point returned for two.

ITU Hornets (2-2) 30 @ Gazi Warriors (0-4) 0

The ITU Hornets easily handled the Warriors of Ankara in a shutout victory. The Hornets took full advantage of the winless Warriors, with imports Gabriel Chambers and AJ Johnson each finding the end zone. The Hornets homegrown products Can Biler added a touchdown of his own, while Yiğit Gündoğdu contributed with a field goal. With the Hornets easy victory, they almost have guaranteed the fourth spot in the TAFL playoffs, needing to win just one more win. Meanwhile, the Warriors are likely candidates for relegation.

Hacettepe Red Deers (1-3) @ Koç Rams (4-0)

The Red Deers forfeited the game as a result of not having the 35 players required to compete, bringing the Koç Rams record to 5-0 and one step closer to clinching first seed in the TAFL playoffs.

Kasey Crosby
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