Swarco Raiders return to form with solid semi-final win over SsangYong Danube Dragons
Swarco RB Lukas Haslwanter # 24 avoiding Danube defender Photo: Benny Radauer / PGFotoTirol
the Swarco Raiders started their playoff semifinal game against the Danube Dragons SsangYong bearing the brunt of two consecutive regular season losses in the Austrian Football League, including an upheaval at the hands of Dragons two weeks ago.
He left the Raiders with a specific point to prove in their semi-final match with Danube last weekend. the Raiders took control of the game from the opening whistle and never gave up as they headed for a 31-20 victory.
It’s undeniable Danube had flashes and also scored a late touchdown to make the score more respectable, but the Raiders were in control for much of the game.
Raiders quarterback Sean Shelton completed 14 of 20 passes for a modest 145 yards. Marco Schneider was his favorite target with six receptions for 86 yards and one touchdown while Adrian Platzgummer made three catches for 20 yards and Rafael Belici two for 34. yards. Shelton was his team’s top rusher with 18 carries for 108 yards and one scoring while Lukas Haslwanter carried the ball nine times for 55 yards and Davion Washington four times for 34 and a touchdown. Ruben Seeber scored a third touchdown on the ground on a three-meter dive.
For the DragonsChad Jeffries had a sub-par day tossing the ball with just nine completed passes on 22 attempts for 140 yards and no touchdowns. Lukas Gold caught four passes for 54 yards and Clemens Hareter had two passes for 46 yards. Running back Byon Rhone carried the ball 14 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns to represent half of the Dragons offense. Jeffries rushed for 12 yards and a score.
Shelton set the tone in the game’s opening game with an attempt at a deep pass to a wide, open Washington that was just out of his reach. Even if Swarco was forced to stumble on this first possession, the message was clear. ‘We did not come to play conservative football.
the Raiders the defense has made a categorical statement on the dragons possession, forcing them back 12 yards in three plays. When Shelton recovered the ball, he got to work, putting in a 14-play, 69-yard drive that took almost eight minutes, topped off by a three-yard touchdown from Ruben Seeber.
It seemed to light up the Danube offense however and on the next practice, aided by a 52-yard run by Rhone, Jeffries walked his team to Swarco’s one-yard line and Rhône finished the practice with a one-yard dive. A missed PAT left the score 7-6 in Swarco promote.
On the next possession, Shelton maneuvered the Raiders from his 31 to Danube 16-yard line in six games, but was drafted on the goal line on a first base to stifle the drive. See you next Raiders However, Shelton was right in hitting Schneider on a 31-yard touchdown pass to widen the lead to 14-6.
It took Jeffries and the Dragons offense only three games to respond with Rhone sliding inside the left tackle, then scolding 39 yards for a touchdown to narrow the lead to 14-13 with three minutes left in the first half.
Swarco wasted no time answering because on the next ride Shelton walked the Raiders of their own 31 until Danube one meter line. He hit the ball in himself and Swarco took a 21-13 lead which they retained at the end of the first half.
Both defenses stiffened at the start of the third, with neither team able to mount consistent practice. Turnover was also an issue as the first Shelton was chosen just inside Danube territory, then the Rhône groped the ball the next day Dragons to play.
Finally, at the start of the fourth, the Raiders were able to start moving the ball again and Shelton guided his team to the Dragons 27 yard line. Arno Schwarz kicked a basket from 42 yards to extend the lead to 24-13.
Again, the Danube the offense stalled and returned the ball on the downs to the Dragons 38-yard line with plenty of time remaining. Shelton and the Raiders took advantage. Remaining on the ground, the Raiders walked to the eight-yard line in three games with Luke Haslwanter and Shelton carrying the ball. Then Davion Washington delivered the final blow, heading outward then cutting inside a block to rush into the end zone from eight yards.
With a little over three minutes to go, Swarco had a 31-13 lead.
Back to the wall, Jeffries finally threw the Danube offensive on the next possession, hitting a wide-open Hareter on the sideline for a gain of 41 yards. Eight plays later, Jeffries hit the ball itself from the two-yard line.
However, it was too little, too late with Swarco come away with a solid 31-20 victory qualifying them for their 17th appearance in the Austrian bowl where they will face big rivals, the Dacia Vienna Vikings.