Football Friday – 6/28/19

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QB Luke Zahradka threw 3 TD passes to lead Milano to Italian Bowl

AMERICAN ARENA LEAGUE

Championship week is finally here for the American Arena League title game. The Roughriders (12-0) will host the Carolina Energy, Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at WesBanco Arena.

The Riders advanced to the final with a 45-6 win over the West Michigan Ironmen in the Northern Conference Championship. The Energy come in at 9-0 following their 52-38 win over the Carolina Havoc in the Southern Conference Championship Game.

The Roughriders have been just as dominant in the playoffs as they were during the regular season outscoring their two opponents, 102-19. The Roughriders defeated the Energy last season in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.

ARENA FOOTBALL LEAGUE

The Columbus Destroyers fell to the Philadelphia Soul, 42-35, on Saturday night in front of 7,604 fans at Nationwide Arena, the largest crowd of the season. With the loss, the Destroyers drop to 1-8 on the season. Quarterback Grant Russell completed 23 of his 39 passes for 237 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions in the loss. Wide receiver Fabian Guerra hauled in nine passes for 75 yards and three touchdowns, while wide receiver Paul Browning caught two more scores.

Current Standings:

  • Albany Empire (8-1)
  • Baltimore Brigade (5-4)
  • Philadelphia Soul (5-4)
  • Washington Valor (5-4)
  • Atlantic City Blackjacks (3-6)
  • Columbus Destroyers (1-8)

This Week’s Schedule:

  • Columbus at Baltimore
  • Albany at Philadelphia
  • Atlantic City at Washington

CHAMPIONS INDOOR FOOTBALL

The Omaha Beef (8-4) defeated the Sioux City Bandits (7-5) 60-50 in a win to get in scenario Saturday night. The win put them in position to play Salina for the third time this season and a shot to play in the CIF Championship.

During the third quarter, the scoring amongst both teams went back and forth with a quarterback duel in the air and on the ground. Both Derrick Bernard and Turner had two passing touchdowns in the quarter, but the legs of Bernard changed the game after his 26-yard rushing touchdown in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Omaha took the lead for the first time since the second quarter (39-34). The Bandits battled back after scoring a touchdown and recovering an onside kick to take the lead right after. Bernard was able to keep his composure and lead the Beef to another score and Jermicheal Williams closed the game with his second onside kick recovery for a touchdown on the season.

Current Standings:

  • Northern Division
    • Salina Liberty (8-4)
    • Omaha Beef (8-4)
    • Sioux City Bandits (7-5)
    • Wichita Force (2-10)
  • Southern Division
    • Duke City Gladiators (9-3)
    • Amarillo Venom (8-4)
    • Oklahoma Flying Aces (2-10)

This Week’s Schedule:

  • Omaha at Salina
  • Amarillo at Duke City

INDOOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE

FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF RESULTS:
SIOUX FALLS STORM 50, TUCSON SUGAR SKULLS 47
The Sioux Falls Storm moved to 12-3 after defeating the Tucson Sugar Skulls 50-47 on Sunday, June 23. The Sugar Skulls would be the first to score in the fourth quarter after a six-yard touchdown pass by Jake Medlock to Jeremiah Harris to bring the score to 36-34. The Storm answered with a six-yard rushing touchdown by Lorenzo Brown to put the Storm up 43-34. The Sugar Skulls would respond with a 12-yard touchdown pass by Jake Medlock Shaquan Curenton to bring the score to 43-41. The Storm answered with a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Calen Campbell to give the Storm a 50-41 lead. The Sugar Skulls would end the game with a two-yard rushing touchdown by Matt Behrendt and an unsuccessful two-point conversion to bring the final score to 50-47.

NEBRASKA DANGER 45, GREEN BAY BLIZZARD 40
In the Blizzard’s first playoff appearance since 2012 they played tight all the way through, but ultimately came up short losing 45-40. The Blizzard defense stopped the Danger twice on the goal line in the closing minutes to give the Blizzard the ball with a 39-40 lead and just seconds remaining on the clock. However, an untimely fumbled snap gave the Danger the ball once more and they took advantage. Running Back Davonte Sapp-Lynch found the end zone with a 2 yard score giving the Danger a 45-40 lead with just 35 seconds remaining on the clock. Following a return by veteran B.J. Hill, the Blizzard had great field position, but were unable to convert as a last second heave from Quarterback Lenorris Footman was knocked away by the Danger defense as time expired.

This Week’s Schedule:

  • United Conference Championship:  Sioux Falls at Iowa
  • Intense Conference Championship:  Nebraska at Arizona

NATIONAL ARENA LEAGUE

The Massachusetts Pirates (5-4) extended their win streak to four games defeating the Columbus Lions (3-5) 59-50. The win puts the Pirates over the .500 record mark for the first time this season. Sean Brackett led the Pirates offense, completing 25 of his 37 passes with 273 yards through the air and six total touchdowns. Wide receiver Mardy Gilyard caught 11 balls for 113 yards and four touchdowns, and also added a rushing score. The Lions were guided by Luke Collis, who went 21-43 with 305 yards, seven touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The Lions started the fourth quarter with another Collis-to-Mack touchdown, which marked the fourth time the duo connected for six points in the contest. The score put the Lions within three points of the Pirates, as they then trailed 46-43. However, Brackett led his offense downfield and completed the drive by doing his best Tom Brady impression as he went up-and-over the linemen to sneak it in from one-yard out on fourth and goal. Collis responded with another touchdown, this time finding receiver Chris Sanders-McCullum from three yards out. The Pirates put the game out of reach on their following drive when Gilyard rushed for a three-yard touchdown with under a minute left in the game. The Pirates defense put the nail in the coffin on the final Lions possession of the game when linebacker Tavarus Dantzler hit Collis as he released a pass, causing the ball to spring up into the air and land into the hands of Toby Johnson for the interception to seal the nine point win.

Current Standings:

  • Jacksonville Sharks (8-1)
  • Carolina Cobras (6-3)
  • Massachusetts Pirates (5-4)
  • New York Streets (3-6)
  • Columbus Lions (3-6)
  • Orlando Predators (2-7)

This Week’s Schedule:

  • Massachusetts at Columbus
  • Jacksonville at New York
  • Carolina at Orlando

INTERNATIONAL LEAGUES:

AUSTRIA

Europe’s American football community will be keeping a close eye on Innsbruck’s Tivoli Stadium Saturday, June 29 when the current Austrian and CEFL Champion, the Swarco Raiders, will host the Dacia Vienna Vikings, Austrian Bowl record holders and five time European Champions, for the 2019 ECTC championship title.

The European Club Team Competition has reached its final and most important event in its very first year of existence. Organized by IFAF Europe, the ECTC started with a total of 13 teams from 11 different countries – Austria, France, Sweden, Serbia, Finland, Turkey, Denmark, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Poland – and has now been whittled down to two.

Vienna’s road to the ECTC Final saw them defeat the Badalona Dracs from Barcelona, Spain 38-8. They had soundly defeated Denmark’s Triangle Razorbacks in the opening game of the tournament. With that victory, the Vikings won the ECTC Central Division.

The Vikings were to have faced the Helsinki Roosters, winners of the Northern European Football League crown, to decide the ECTC final, but Helsinki was unable to play in the final leaving the Vikings with a walkover.

Swarco needed a late-game rally to defeat the Calanda Broncos 46-42 in CEFL Bowl XIV to capture their third straight title and qualify for the ECTC final. They had previously defeated France’s Thonon Black Panthers who they dominated 41-7. They then manhandled the Milano Seamen from Italy, 50-23.

Dacia Vikings Head Coach Chris Calaycay, Swarco Raiders HC Shuan Fatah and IFAF Europe Director Gregor Murth presented their views prior to this important match-up.

CANADA

Lucky Whitehead scored twice to lead the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to a 28-21 win over the Edmonton Eskimos in their first home game of 2019.

The first-year receiver dazzled a crowd of 25,336 at IG Field in Winnipeg, scoring a 75-yard touchdown in the first half and eluding defenders for a highlight-reel 41-yard catch and run in the third quarter.

The Bombers, meanwhile, survived a late-game turnover on a fumble by Andrew Harris — one of two fumbles on the night — forcing three straight incompletions to hold off a late rally from the Eskimos and preserve the victory.

GERMANY

The 5-2 Stuttgart Scorpions withstood a late rally to edge the Munich Cowboys (2-4) 21-19 in German Football League seventh round action at GAZi-Stadion in Stuttgart this past weekend.

The Cowboys, trailing 21-6, dominated the fourth quarter, scoring two touchdowns but missing a 42 yard field goal with no time left on the clock.

Stuttgart had built a 21-6 lead early in the fourth when the Cowboys mounted their furious comeback.

Stuttgart quarterback Michael Eubank threw for 210 yards and two touchdowns on 15 of 29 passing. Wide receiver Pascal Flöser had four catches for 92 yards and a touchdown while Tyler Cooperwood had two receptions for 55 yards and a touchdown. while rushing for another. Flöser kicked all three extra points.

ITALY

The Milano Seamen are headed to their sixth Italian Bowl in seven years and third straight after shutting out the Lazio Ducks 38-0 in Milan this past weekend in Itay’s Div. 1 semifinals.

There was no doubt in this game as the Seamen jumped out to a 27-0 first half lead and never looked back as Lazio’s offense sputtered all game long. While Milano recorded modest numbers totaling 242 yards of offense, they didn’t need to do more as the Ducks could only muster 96 yards of offense, only 30 in the air.

Milano’s stifling defense was too much for a Lazio team that coughed up the ball time and again. The Ducks fumbled three times, all of which led to scores. They also had a punt blocked on the goalline and that too led to a touchdown.

Seamen quarterback Luke Zahradka was an efficient 15 of 23 for 206 yards and three touchdowns with Gianluca Santagostino catching four passes for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Claudio Buccellato caught the third. Danilo Bonaparte rushed for one touchdown and Arnaud Mboutcha recovered a fumble in the end zone for the fifth Milano touchdown. Stefan Di Tunisi had a quiet day on offense but kicked a field goal and four extra points.

So the Seamen will now face the Firenze Guelfi in the Italian Bowl, July 6.

POLAND

Poland’s Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego championship game this Saturday pits the 2018 champion Bialystok Lowlanders against the 2017 Polish champions, the Wroclaw Panthers in a rematch of the 2018 final.

Bialystok edged the Panthers 14-13 in the 2018 final winning their first ever Polish title.

To reach this year’s final, the Panthers, playing in the South Conference, finished the eight-game regular season without a loss. They then cruised to an easy 52-6 win over the Gdynia Seahawks in the semifinals.

Bialystok topped the North Conference with a 6-2 record and in the semifinal round shocked the Tychy Falcons, beating them 49-19.

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