Stuttgart topples Kaiserslautern to keep hopes alive
STUTTGART, Germany -- The defending champion Stuttgart Panthers scrapped their way back to .500 in the DODEA-Europe Division I football race Saturday, scoring four unanswered second-half touchdowns to beat the visiting Kaiserslautern Raiders 35-18.
The win is Stuttgart’s second in a row and brings the reigning champs back to even after it started the conference season on a two-game losing streak. The Panthers face last-place Vilseck next weekend with a winning season, and perhaps a semifinal berth, on the line.
Kaiserslautern snapped a two-game winning streak with the loss and fell even with Stuttgart at 2-2 in conference play. The Raiders host undefeated archrival Ramstein in a regular-season finale with major stakes for the home team.
The Raiders were dominant for a half, controlling possession for close to 20 of the game’s opening 24 minutes and building an 18-point lead the Panthers managed to trim to 11 with a touchdown drive to close the first half. Stuttgart carried that momentum into the final two quarters, scoring 28 points and stifling the Raider offense.
Quarterback Alec Kenfield starred for the Panthers, throwing all five touchdowns as part of a 16-completion, 222-yard performance. Sabriel Ashley collected three of those touchdown passes, while Gavin Abney handled two. Tito Mercado led the Panther ground attack with 116 yards on 15 carries.
Corey Coombs turned in a typically prolific game as the centerpiece of Kaiserslautern’s offense, carrying 36 times for 208 yards and two touchdowns.
Stuttgart’s Sean Smith led all tacklers with 20, while teammate Josh Olive added 10. Nelson Hernandez grabbed a pair of interceptions for the Panthers.