Dacia Vienna Vikings stage dramatic come-from-behind win over Prague Black Panthers, advance to Austrian Bowl XXXV

The Dacia Vienna Vikings scored two second half touchdowns and solved a riddle in beating the Prague Black Panthers 28-21 in the Austrian Football League semifinals to advance to Austrian Bowl XXXV.

The riddle was simple. How do you stop the Prague running game in the second half while mounting your own running attack? The answer. Play harder and smarter. And they did just that.

Prague running back Herbert Gamboa had a field day in the first half against the Vikings, rushing for 143 yards and scoring two touchdowns while his quarterback Dylan Potts rushed for 47 and another score.

In the second half, Gamboa was held to seven yards, Potts eight. And zero touchdowns.

Vikings quarterback Austin Herink threw for 217 yards and two touchdowns and scored another one on the ground while Bernhard Seikovits (68 yds) and Yannick Mayr  (59, 1 TD) were clutch receivers, especially in the second half. Andrew Spencer rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown. But he gained 79 yards on the ground in the second half. Tight end Leon Balogh hauled in a touchdown pass as well.

Gamboa rushed for 149 yards and two touchdowns while Potts carried the ball 17 times for 57 yards and a touchdown but only threw for 52 yards.

Photo: Andreas Bischof

The game started ideally for Prague as they forced a Vikings punt and then marched the ball down the field, running the ball nine of 11 plays with Gamboa finishing it on a five  yard plunge.

Herink tied the game with a five yard touchdown pass to Balogh and the score was 7-7 late in the first quarter. However, Gamboa returned the Vikings kickoff down to the Vienna 29 yard line and three plays later Potts scored from the four and the Black Panthers regained the lead, 14-7 entering the second period.

Prague’s defense picked off a Herink pass and on a third and one from his own 38, Gamboa took the handoff and rambled 62 yards to increase the lead to 21-7.

The Vikings responded with a 75 yard drive which Herink finished with a one yard dive to creep closer, 21-14.

The second half was a complete contrast to the first.

Prague’s offense stalled with Gamboa unable to gain more than a yard or two. Meanwhile, Herink kicked the Vienna offense into a higher gear. Getting the ball back at the 10 with seven minutes to go in the third, Herink orchestrated a 12 play, 90 yard drive, eating up five minutes and capping it with a 10 yard touchdown pass to Mayr to narrow the lead to 21-20 after the PAT was blocked. It was a defining moment for Vienna. They had taken control of the game.

The defense rose up, preventing the Black Panthers from gaining a first down until there was under a minute to go.

Meanwhile Herink led the offense on another drive, this one 67 yards, with Spencer capping it with a two yard run to break the tie and take the lead, 26-21. Mayr converted the two-point conversion and Vienna led 28-21 with under two minutes left.

The Black Panthers mounted a furious comeback with less than two minutes to go but Sebastian Wimmer intercepted a third down pass from Potts at his own 26 yard line and Vienna found themselves back in the Austrian final.

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