Vienna Vikings stage late rally against Wroclaw Panthers to remain undefeated

The Vienna Vikings keep finding ways to keep their perfect record intact, as they rallied from a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter to defeat the Wroclaw Panthers by a score of 20-16 as the European League of Football wound up the 11th round of action.

The first quarter was fairly quiet, as the only points scored came from a field goal by Panthers kicker Jakub Aldas.  In the second quarter, the Panthers put together a long drive, and went for it on 4th and 1 from the Vienna 7-yard line, but the Vikings’ defense stuffed the rush attempt and prevented the home team from extending their lead.  The Vienna offense took over and put together an impressive drive of their own, capping off a 13-play drive with a Florian Wegan rushing touchdown.  This gave the visitors a 7-3 lead, which they took into halftime.

Early in the third quarter, the Vikings were in punt formation, when a botched snap resulted in the Panthers pouncing on the ball inside the opposing 5-yard line.  ELF rushing leader Dawid Brzozowski punched the ball into the end zone from there, and the Panthers took a 10-7 lead.  The Vikings then went three-and-out, and Wroclaw extended their lead to 13-7 with an Aldas field goal.  In the fourth quarter, the Panthers put together another long possession, and Aldas impressively connected on a field goal from 55 yards out to make it a two-possession game halfway through the third quarter. 

Wroclaw ball carrier getting tripped up by Vienna DB Exavier Edwards #7. Photo: Hannes Jirgal

Once Vienna regained possession though, they seemed to flip a switch.  Their offense quickly moved down the field, and quarterback Chris Helbig found Radim Kalous for a 20 yard touchdown.  The extra point cut the lead to 16-14 with under five minutes remaining.  The Panthers went three and out, and the Vikings took over with just under three minutes on the clock.  It only took them five plays to find the end zone, as Helbig connected with Florian Bierbaumer from 29 yards out to take the lead, 20-16.  The two point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, and Panthers took over with just over a minute to go.  Needing to score a touchdown, they were unable to push the ball down the field, and Vienna escaped with a victory.

This was the second matchup between these teams this year, and it was the second time that Vienna overcame a two-possession deficit to win.  Wroclaw has to be very disappointed to let that happen for a second time, and it could prove to be very costly in the end.  With two games remaining, the Panthers will most likely have to win both to make the playoffs, including the first must-win game against the Berlin Thunder next week.

A current student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carter played football in high school and has been a lifelong avid football fan.