RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — The Ramstein Royals will open the defense of their European Division I championship on the road this week despite a 13-6 victory Saturday over the visiting Filton Pride.

Both teams finished the I-North campaign with 5-1 records. But Ramstein, which lost at Filton 26-3 on Oct. 2, needed to win this rematch by 13 points or more to claim the I-North title and a home-field game this Saturday against I-South runner-up Wiesbaden.

The Royals appeared to be headed for that exact margin for the first 45½ minutes of the game on TD runs by Nick Nixon and Steve Groenheim. But with 2½ minutes to play, Pride QB Jordan Eaton teamed up with Cameron Parker for a 45-yard touchdown pass that proved enough to preserve Filton’s tiebreaker edge for the conference crown.

“You know what can happen when they keep throwing the ball around,” Ramstein coach Carlos Amponin said Saturday by telephone. “Someone can slip or miss an assignment or a pass can slip through.”

Whatever the case this time, Filton will host Wiesbaden and Ramstein will travel to Heidelberg the for D-I semifinals.

“Some of our guys were moping around, saying the game felt more like a loss,” Amponin said. “But I told them that the league title was just a plaque. I’m more encouraged to know that we’re a better team than we were up there. We still can do what we want to do in the next two games.”

Young Oh, Jaap van Gaalen and Andres Gaytan pulled off interceptions for Ramstein; Ashley Hopkinson led Filton’s defense, which picked off two Ramstein passes, with 10 tackles.

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