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The Ramstein Royals and their fans celebrate winning the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8.

The Ramstein Royals and their fans celebrate winning the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

The Ramstein Royals and their fans celebrate winning the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8.

The Ramstein Royals and their fans celebrate winning the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein's Clifford Jackson celebrates winning the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8.

Ramstein's Clifford Jackson celebrates winning the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden's Allen Quitagua catches a pass over Ramstein's Brendan Hicks during the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Wiesbaden lost 13-8.

Wiesbaden's Allen Quitagua catches a pass over Ramstein's Brendan Hicks during the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Wiesbaden lost 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden's Joshua Theodore, right, tries to break a tackle by Ramstein's Kaden Daigle at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Wiesbaden lost 13-8.

Wiesbaden's Joshua Theodore, right, tries to break a tackle by Ramstein's Kaden Daigle at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Wiesbaden lost 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein's Trevor Miller throws a pass at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

Ramstein's Trevor Miller throws a pass at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein's Ryan Morgan is brought down by Wiesbaden's Chance Arnoldussen, left, and Allen Quitagua during the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein won 13-6.

Ramstein's Ryan Morgan is brought down by Wiesbaden's Chance Arnoldussen, left, and Allen Quitagua during the DODEA-Europe Division I championship at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein won 13-6. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein's Kyle Glenn, left, tries to break a tackle by Wiesbaden's Andre Sterling at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein won 13-8.

Ramstein's Kyle Glenn, left, tries to break a tackle by Wiesbaden's Andre Sterling at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein won 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden's Andre Sterling, right, chases a blocked punt at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

Wiesbaden's Andre Sterling, right, chases a blocked punt at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein's Brendan Hicks runs the ball at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8 to win the DODEA-Europe Division I championship.

Ramstein's Brendan Hicks runs the ball at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein defeated Wiesbaden 13-8 to win the DODEA-Europe Division I championship. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden's Christopher Hobson, left, tries to run the ball around Ramstein's Cade Martinez at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

Wiesbaden's Christopher Hobson, left, tries to run the ball around Ramstein's Cade Martinez at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden's Gunner Yingling throws a pass at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016.

Wiesbaden's Gunner Yingling throws a pass at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Ramstein's Marlon Guyton runs for a hole in Wiesbaden's defense at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein won the DODEA-Europe Division I championship 13-8.

Ramstein's Marlon Guyton runs for a hole in Wiesbaden's defense at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Ramstein won the DODEA-Europe Division I championship 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

Wiesbaden's Caleb Brown runs the ball at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Wiesbaden lost the game 13-8.

Wiesbaden's Caleb Brown runs the ball at Vogelweh, Germany, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Wiesbaden lost the game 13-8. (Michael B. Keller/Stars and Stripes)

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany -- The premier rivalry in DODEA-Europe football resumed Saturday at Kaiserslautern High School, and the results were as compelling as ever.

The Ramstein Royals beat the Wiesbaden Warriors 13-8 for the 2016 Division I European title, their second such championship in the last three seasons.

“I’m so happy to be a part of this team, I’m very honored and privileged to coach these guys,” said Ramstein’s Carter Hollenbeck, the former defensive coordinator turned first-year head coach. “It’s pretty special.”

The equally matched clash between the division’s most reliable contenders produced a tense fourth-quarter defensive struggle. With Ramstein ahead by seven, each team’s defense forced its adversary to punt, costing Ramstein chances to ice the game and Wiesbaden chances to tie it.

The standoff finally culminated in a chaotic final series of events.

Wiesbaden breached the Ramstein red zone with just over a minute to play and was left facing fourth down and goal at the 11. The Warriors’ pass attempt found only turf, and their apparent final chance had eluded them.

But the game had a bit more intrigue to offer. A little too much time remained for Ramstein to kill the clock by having someone take a knee. So on their own fourth down, the Royals snapped the ball and accepted an intentional safety in an attempt to run out the final seconds. But two pesky seconds persisted, forcing Ramstein to offer one final kickoff to the Warriors. Wiesbaden’s desperate string of laterals went nowhere.

That late failed drive was a microcosm of the game as a whole, as neither team managed to produce much consistent offense.

Both teams drove deep enough to get a decent look at a first-quarter field goal - Matthew Reismann made Ramstein’s just three minutes into the game, while Wiesbaden misfired on its shot four minutes later.

Ramstein’s defense stepped into the playmaking void. The Royals pinned the Warriors deep in their own territory, and senior Andrew Short pierced the Wiesbaden line to put his hands on a punt. The block gave the Ramstein offense a needed head start, and Kyle Glenn punched in the Royals’ first and only touchdown on a sharp 5-yard run. The score gave the Royals a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

In a sequence that foreshadowed the Warriors’ frustrations in the game’s final minutes, a potential scoring drive slipped away from Wiesbaden at the end of the first half. With no timeouts available, the whistle signaling halftime barely beat a Warrior snap from the 5-yard line that might have produced Wiesbaden’s desperately needed first points.

Instead, the Warriors’ only touchdown came on a stunning 75-yard pass from Gunner Yingling to Dante Hurt with under three minutes to play in the third quarter. Reismann and the Royals responded with a 35-yard field goal at the start of the fourth quarter, giving Ramstein a 13-6 lead and setting up the game’s dramatic final act.

Glenn tasted a title with the Royals in 2014 and bitter disappointment in the form of last year’s semifinal loss to Stuttgart. The senior was determined to go out a champion, not just for himself and his fellow seniors but for the entire Ramstein roster.

“As the season went on and on, we grew more and more as a family. It was a special season,” Glenn said. “I made it my goal to deliver one to these guys. They deserve it.”

At the opposite extreme from the grizzled leader Glenn was the debuting Reismann, an unassuming freshman kicker who ended up not just playing in the title game but supplying seven of his team’s 13 points.

“It feels really nice to be on the team,” Reismann said. “I can’t really describe how happy I am right now.”

The mood was entirely different on the opposite sideline, where the Warriors were left to process a third straight loss in the European championship game. Rather than dwell on those failures, however, head coach Steve Jewell focused on the magnitude of his young, “banged-up” team’s accomplishment in simply reaching another final.

“Hell of a season, regardless of the outcome of our last game,” Jewell said. “We stuck around, and had our chances to pull it out.”

The Warriors and Royals have now played for the championship four times in the last six seasons, with each winning two of those meetings. Wiesbaden won in 2011 and 2013, while Ramstein won in 2014 and in Saturday’s 2016 edition.

broome.gregory@stripes.com

Twitter: @broomestripes


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