Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns push past La Courneuve Flash to punch their ticket to CEFL Bowl

Unicorns’ defensive back Mitch Fettig racing down the sideline en route to one of his two touchdowns

By Jordan Meneo

Jordan Neuman, Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns’ head coach, delivered on the promise of an action-packed Central European Football League semi-final against France’s top team, the La Courtneuve Flash.

On a beautiful, early summer day, fans at a packed OPTIMA Sportpark print Schwäbisch Hall, Germany were treated to a back-and-forth high intensity football game with the Unicorns holding off a late surge from a tough La Courneuve squad, downloading them 35-21 in the Central European Football League semifinals.

In a game of excellent performances, one of the most impressive came from Unicorns’ defensive back Mitch Fettig. Fettig, who played NCAA D1 football at Eastern Washington Universitywas one of the two former US college players on the roster for the Unicorns. Another was from quarterback Reilly Hennessey (Central Washington, NCAA Div. 1). Due to CEFL rules, only two players with US college experience are allowed on each team, forcing teams to have to exclude many of their best players. However, the decision to bring in Fettig, in addition to Hennessey, was, it turns out, the right one.

Although Fettig is a defensive back, in this game he was doing it all. It seemed like there was hardly a moment in the game when he wasn’t on the field as he also played wide receiver and running back in addition to defensive back. Fettig was able to live every defensive player’s dream as he proved he could catch by hauling in two touchdown passes.

Unicorns WR Josh Haas #13 heading for paydirt

It’s been rare for fans of either team to see an unanimously matched game as up to now both teams have been blowing out their opponents. Yet Saturday there was no doubt these teams matched up perfectly. La Courneuve was able to slice through the Unicorns defense judging on a short passing and running game.

The game kicked into gear in the first quarter as Josh Haas scored on a 57-yard pass from Hennessey giving them a 7-0 lead. However, thanks to former National Football League tight end, Ryan Smith, the Flash were able to equalize at 7-7 before the end of the quarter. In the second quarter, Schwäbisch Hall regain their lead on a 21-yard catch for a touchdown by Fettig. After five possession changes, La Courneuve picked off a Hennessey pass and returned it into Unicorns territory. The Flash was, unfortunately, unable to take advantage of the moment and missed a chance to equalize on an incomplete pass with eight seconds left in the quarter. The score remains 14-7 going into halftime.

Coming out of the locker room, Schwäbisch Hall looked prepared to pile on the offense. Fettig caught his second touchdown to quickly extend the lead to 21-7. The Unicorns looked like they would extend their lead even more after a botched Flash punt. However, the drive would eventually end with a missed field goal. From then on, the pendulum shifted as La Courneuve seize all the momentum. After Smith’s second touchdown of the day and a score from veteran wide-receiver Steve Delaval, the score was level at 21-21 in the early stages of the last quarter.

Like he has many times before, Unicorns‘ running back Lars Koslowski rose to the occasion. After a 52-yard bolt, he punched the ball into the endzone himself for a three-yard touchdown giving Schwäbisch Hall a 28-21 lead. Then the turning point of the game happened. The Flash had marched down deep inside Schwäbisch Hall territory and were set to equalize when Unicorns‘ defensive back Jan Klenk recovered a La Courneuve fumble at the two-yard line. The momentum shift came suddenly and Koslowski took advantage on the very next play, slicing through the Flash front seven and then dashing 90 yards down to the three-yard line. Then, on a third and goal from the two, Hennessey found his way into the end zone, sealing the win.

Needless to say, Unicorns head coach Jordan Neuman was pleased:

“I’m incredibly proud of my team. We had to use a lot of young players today. On the one hand because of the CEFL import rule, but on the other hand, because we caught a few injuries in the game. Our backup guys had to step up early on against such a strong opponent and they mastered it with flying colors. I am very happy about that!”

With this win, the Unicorns move onto the CEFL Bowl where they’ll face Italy’s Parma Panthers, who used a stifling defense to beat Switzerland’s Calanda Broncos September 21.

The championship game is scheduled for June 23 with the location to be decided over the coming week.

Originally written by Axel Streich in German.

Photos: M. Löffler & R. Müller

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