The Berlin Thunder hosted the Hamburg Sea Devils to kickoff this weekend’s action. But the final score doesn’t accurately represent what actually happened in this matchup.
We’re in Week 9 of the inaugural European League of Football season, which means now everyone has played against their division rivals at least once. And now going back through the schedule, hoping to have learned something from the 1st time.
The Sea Devils came in hoping to avenge their 1st loss of the season against the Galaxy. That’s how this game started, like Hamburg was taking out all of their frustration from last week put on Berlin.
After receiving the opening kick, QB Jadrian Clark and the Hamburg offense took 1st blood. Big plays from WR Nassim Amroun, and RB Xavier Johnson, got the ball inside the 10, where Clark could hit TE Adria Botella Moreno for the score.
Down 7-0, Berlin tried to get the drive going, but undisciplined play, silly penalties, and poor offensive line performance kept QB Calvin Stitt uncomfortable. Not a position a successful QB can operate in.
One particular penalty kept this drive from progressing. A 1st down false start set them back 5 yards, and on 3rd down, Stitt was able to get those yards back, but not the extra distance. On 4th and 5, Berlin had to punt
During the Sea Devils’ 2nd drive, RB Xavier Johnson got his momentum going. 2 big runs put Hamburg in scoring range, and just like the 1st drive, Clark hit Botella Moreno for the TD.
Another punt from the Thunder, gave the ball back to the Sea Devils, but the drive ended on a great interception by DB Jameel white.
Unfortunately Berlin couldn’t take advantage of it. Every time Stitt and Co would make a big play, there would be some type of blocking penalty. The best play in this drive was Stitt’s awareness to go deep on 3rd and long, drawing a defensive holding call. Although it’s just a 5 yard penalty, by rule the offense gets an automatic 1st down.
The inability to protect their QB put Stitt in situations where he had to run for his life. Which is part of why you see a lot sacks from mobile QBs. They’re used to running, and not always because they can. But it becomes instinct. With no time to go through his progressions, Stitt had to run after the 1st read.
The Sea Devils defense planned for this, and once the pocket collapsed, their LBS moved in for the kill.
Late in the 1st half, after getting the ball back from Berlin, Hamburg set off on a drive that would end in spectacular fashion. Penalties followed their offense too, but Clark has wheels, and used them to keep this drive from dying like the previous one. Amroun and Jean-Claude Madin Cerezo kept the offense moving.
The climax came on a broken play in the red zone, making Clark improvise. Scrambling to his right, and throwing across his body – a big QB no-no – Botella Moreno made the play of the game for his 3rd score. A one-handed grab that capped off a dominant 1st half.
Things continued to go south for the Thunder. A botched handoff led to a fumble that was recovered by DL Hiswill Awuah, giving the ball back to the Sea Devils deep in plus territory.
The 1st half closed with Hamburg leading 21-0 off 3 Adria Botella Moreno TDs. But the momentum was tested in the 2nd half, as Brin staged a comeback story that no one who saw the beginning of the game could’ve imagined.
The Thunder received the 2nd half kick but their comeback wasn’t to start here. The Sea Devils continued where they left off after receiving a punt, and drove down the field with one of their star Spaniards in the endzone. Clark hit Jean-Claude Madin Cerezo on a beautiful catch and run that extended the lead to 28-0.
Berlin scored at will on the next 3 drives. In that time Hamburg lost a bad snap, and had to punt, not pitting any points on the board. The lead dwindled to 28-20.
The first Thunder TD was a beautifully placed ball to RB Joc Crawford. The 2nd and 3rd were made by WR Seantavius Jones.
Berlin had a shot at tying the game, but the 20 unanswered was all there would be. Confusion caused the Thunder to have to use 2 timeouts on the first drive of the 2nd half.
That left them with just 1 down the stretch, and it wouldn’t be enough to keep Hamburg from running the clock down and sealing the win, 28-20.
The Sea Devils improve to 7-1, and face a dangerous Wroclaw Panthers team next week.
The Thunder fall to 1-6, and play the Barcelona Dragons in Week 10.
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