Turkish champions, the Koc Rams outlasted the Serbian title holders, the Kragujevac Wild Boars 47-41 in Central European Football League opening round play in Istanbul, Turkey.
With the win, the Rams even their record against the Wild Boars. Kragujevac won last year’s game 21-14.
In a game as tight as it could be, the Rams broke a 21-21 halftime tie with two touchdowns in the third and Kragujevac was forced to play catch up the rest of the way. In a game which saw defenses simply unable to stop the football, Rams quarterback David Whipple and Wild Boars running back Joshua Quezada were outstanding.
Whipple threw three touchdown passes and ran for another as receiver Kaan Özer caught two touchdown passes and Ja Vontae Hence caught one while running back Taha Cokadar rushed for two and defensive back Rexhep Minic pounced on a bad punt snap for the Rams final, game-winning touchdown.
Quezada was superb rushing for 181 yards and three touchdowns while quarterback Dalton Oliver threw two touchdown passes and rushed for a third. Strahinja Stepović and Stefan Đurić each caught touchdown passes.
Oliver opened the scoring after the Wild Boars special teams forced a fumble on the two yard line. He scrambled in for the 7-0 lead, but the Rams responded on the next series. Whipple found Özer for his first score to tie the game. The topsy turvy first half saw the teams trade touchdown for touchdown with neither team gaining momentum.
The Rams broke the 21-21 tie with two third quarter touchdowns as Oliver connected with Hence and then Çokadar capped a long drive with a four yard run and Koc took a 34-21 lead.
It wasn’t enough however.
Quezada put on a one man offensive show as the Rams defense could not keep him contained. For two series he dominated scoring two touchdowns and putting Kragujevac back out in front 35-34,
Whipple came back with a touchdown of his own, scrambling in from 20 yards out to retake the lead 40-35. The Rams then took advantage of a bad Kragujevac punt snap in the end zone as Redžep Minić jumped on it and the lead was extended to 47-35.
The Wild Boars still had a chance after Oliver threw a touchdown strike to Đurić but it was too little too late as the Rams held on for the win.
The Wild Boars now face the Moscow Patriots at home on April 28 while the Rams travel to Moscow to play the Patriots on May 12.