Unbeaten Wiesbaden will defend football title
October 24, 2014
WIESBADEN, Germany -- The Wiesbaden Warriors earned their shot at a second straight DODDS-Europe Division I football championship Friday night with a 56-27 victory over the visiting Kaiserslautern Raiders.
Wiesbaden coach Steve Jewell instructed his team to enjoy the win over the weekend and come back Monday prepared to pursue its ultimate goal: another championship.
"Obviously, we feel good," Jewell said. "But it's not like it's over."
Jewell said the Raiders "out-executed" the Warriors in building an early 10-0 lead, but his team "out-athleted" the Warriors for the duration.
Kaiserslautern coach Aaron Scalise, meanwhile, said his team's chances at an upset were sabotaged by turnovers.
"We think we can compete with anybody. But five turnovers in a game doesn't bode well," Scalise said. "We lost to a better team tonight. My hat's off to them."
The Raiders started off strongly. They advanced deep into the red zone in their game-opening drive and came away with a 23-yard Ryan Rimmler field goal and a 3-0 lead three minutes in. They found the end zone on their next trip downfield, scoring on a 4-yard pass to Jeremiah Evans. Rimmler's point after made the Kaiserslautern lead 10-0 just under eight minutes into the game.
That held for awhile. The Raider defense stymied the vaunted Wiesbaden attack, and the Raider offense swallowed small chunks of yardage on a diet of short passes and quarterback keepers. But a costly Kaiserslautern fumble offered the home team new life, and quarterback Tim Cuthbert trotted in from 4 yards out to put the Warriors on the board early in the second quarter.
The Raiders were ready with the response, until it too was interrupted. Their subsequent drive featured two successful fourth-down conversions, another journey deep into Wiesbaden turf and, ultimately, another fumble. The Warriors capitalized immediately; speedy back Anthony Little took a reverse down the sideline, shrugged off several would-be tacklers and sprinted in for a go-ahead 30-yard touchdown.
That wasn't the worst of it for Kaiserslautern. Moments later, Wiesbaden's Paul Blackwood returned an interception inside the 5 and Deshon Barrow punched it in for a 21-10 Warrior lead at halftime.
The carnage continued after halftime. Cuthbert found Little for a pair of touchdown passes and ran another in himself, Christian Guevra scored on a 1-yard run and Keyshaun Greene broke off a 75-yard run to inflate the Warrior lead.
Kaiserslautern mustered some resistance, but not enough to make a game of it. Rimmler kicked a second field goal and David Zaryczny and Hawkins scored rushing touchdowns in the second half.
Jewell said Little was disturbed by an early fumble and "ran angry" for the rest of the game.
"I felt like I had to make up for it," Little said.
And so he did, making the most of the intermittent opportunities he gets in Wiesbaden's deep and diverse offense.
"I just sit back and wait my turn," Little said.
Despite the slow start, Blackwood said the Warrior defense remained confident it would eventually solve the Raiders' tricky no-huddle offense.
"I think our defense just wasn't relaxed yet," said Blackwood, who also had a touchdown-saving one-armed tackle on his Friday-night highlight reel. "And then we kept on playing ball and we came out storming."
The win qualifies the undefeated Warriors for the European title game, set for Nov. 1 at Kaiserslautern High School. They'll face the winner of Saturday's semifinal between host Ramstein and Patch. The Royals are heavy favorites after beating the Panthers 45-0 during the regular season.
A Ramstein-Wiesbaden meeting next Saturday would be a rematch of last season's title game and this fall's Oct. 10 regular-season overtime clash, which homestanding Wiesbaden won 20-14.
Meanwhile, Friday spelled the end for Kaiserslautern. The Raiders entered the season with high expectations after breaking a years-long winless streak with a playoff berth last season. But they didn't manage more forward progress this fall; they finished 2-3 on the regular season, scratched into the final postseason slot on the final day and saw their upset bid fall short Friday.