Hohenfels rallies to capture playoff spot
Stars and Stripes
HOHENFELS, Germany - Hohenfels turned a hand-wringing regular-season finale into a hands-waving postseason celebration Saturday, scoring 40 second-half points and clinching a playoff berth with a 52-20 win over visiting Aviano.
The Tigers came into the season's final weekend packed tightly into a crowd of three teams jockeying for second place in the Division II Southern Conference. Ansbach bowed out Saturday with a loss to Naples, and Hohenfels seized the opportunity to oust Aviano and claim the bid for itself. The payoff: a visit to three-time defending Europe Division II champion Bitburg next weekend.
The teams played to a scoreless draw in the first quarter, then exchanged scores for the balance of the first half. Aviano struck first on a goal-line rush from Alex Ramos.
Hohenfels responded with touchdowns of the defensive and offensive varieties via Buck Reed's fumble recovery and return and David Vidovic's 96-yard run. Aviano's Mike Trujillo found Ramos for a 10-yard scoring pass out of the halftime locker room to restore the tie score.
Hohenfels responded with three third-quarter scoring drives each capped by short-yardage touchdown runs, one from Vidovic followed by two from Kordell Craft. The reeling Saints mounted resistance with a score at the end of the third quarter, but the rout was on; Chris Terrell punched in a 5-yard touchdown run, Vidovic stepped into the end zone for a third time after a 34-yard dash and Caleb Petersen scored from 4 yards out to send the Tigers on to Bitburg.
Vidovic's iron-man stat line included 29 carries for 403 yards, three touchdowns, four PATs, one interception and a team-high eight tackles. Terrell carried 18 times for 141 yards and a score, made two tackles and two fumble recoveries and even recovered an onside kick to crack the special-teams side of the box score.
The Hohenfels outburst brought Aviano's season to a stunning end. Trujillo was productive in defeat, completing 12 of 20 pass attempts for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Among his preferred targets were Andrew Bert (five catches, 73 yards) and Elijah Smith (five catches, 65 yards, touchdown).