Germany clinched a berth in the playoff game for fifth place, but Australia not only scored their first points of the 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship, but also pushed the European Champions every step of the way in an honorable 30-20 defeat.
Outback quarterback Kiernan Dorney threw three touchdown passes, including two to team MVP Locklan Gilbert as he caught 3 passes for 107 yards. German receiver Niklas Roemer also reeled in two six-pointers and the MVP honors as part of a team-leading 8 catches for 153 yards.
“It was really difficult,” Admitted Roemer afterwards. “Australian players are really good at covering the players. They don’t let themselves be beat deep. It was tough to create space on deep routes, so we tried to take what they gave us.
“Australia hit us hard. We are fortunate in the end that it worked out for us and we got the win. We finished strong and never gave up even when it was close.”
Germany Sport Director Marshall Happer echoed his receiver’s sentiments, adding: “My hat goes off to the Australian team. Anyone that knows Australian sportsman know that they are people that fight to the bitter end. Certainly we knew that they would never quit and showed that they have a lot of heart.
“We are happy that we won the game, and I am proud about we did but Australia should be recognized for the hard fought match.
“We were fortunate to get the field goal right before halftime to go up by nine. We knew it wasn’t over, and the Australians were going to come out motivated. And we knew we had to come out and execute and keep playing hard.
“Just execute and play hard that is what we asked of them, and that’s what we did.”
Australia head coach John Leijten added: “The way we fought in this game and how close it was is a win for Australia. I am very happy with the outcome of the game. Germany is a strong team. You come in here and play the US first, Mexico second and Germany third.
“There is no easy game here. We put our resources into this game that we could battle and hang in there.”
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Germany signaled its intentions on the game’s opening drive as running back Waldemar Schander broke free on the ground and then Joachim Ullrich twice hit Dominic Hanselmann to move the ball to midfield.
Dohrendorf and Jerome Morris both made first down yardage then Ullrich stepped up into the pocket to find Pascal Maier and set up first and goal on the two. Morris punched the ball in from two yards out and having exploited an array of offensive weapons, Germany led 7-0 with 7:34 left in the first quarter.
An impressive pass from Dorney found Tyson Garnham for big gain and moved into German territory, but then Schmidt came agonizingly close to making an interception and Mathias Eck sacked Dorney, forcing the Aussies to punt.
Germany were ruthless in reply and Roemer out ran the secondary’s coverage, split the safeties and reeled in a long 50-yard Ullrich pass for a touchdown as he stayed calm under pressure from a four-man rush.
Australia were far from disheartened and hit straight back as tight end Locklan Gilbert caught what looked to be a short gain on the right sideline, but then fended off a hold and tackles to race free to the end zone and turn it into a 76-yard scoring play and Australia’s first touchdown of the tournament with 11 seconds to play in the first quarter.
When Germany regained possession, Dohrendorf dropped a pass that would have moved the ball to within a yard of the end zone, Morris was dropped for a loss and a third and goal pass also came up short, so Germany settled for a 27-yard yard field goal by Dennis Wiehberg and a 17-7 lead.
Australia’s defense denied Germany a touchdown again as Steve Nzeocha broke up a pass attempt on third down and Germany had to settle for another Wiehberg field goal, this time from 32 yards for a 20-7 advantage.
Australia pulled a stunning play out of the tricks bag and executed a perfect fake punt as Luke Fredericks raced unnoticed down the right sideline as the German special teamers charged downfield before turning to push him out of bounds at the 37-yard mark.
On the same drive, Australia got out of trouble on third and ten as Dorney avoided a sack and tossed a shovel pass to Matt Croasdaile for a first down, and an offside penalty gained five more yards. A third and short saw Dorney agonizingly overthrow a diving receiver in the end zone and on fourth down Australia opted to go for broke.
Dorney threaded a stunning 19-yard pass to a diving Fredericks at the back of the end zone for a second Australian touchdown to reduce the deficit to six points.
Australian defensive back Andrew Yeung came up with an interception and would have raced all the way down the right sideline to score but for a saving tackle by Pascal Meier who was injured in the process as he dived full length to trip the defensive back. Australia was unable to capitalize on the turnover and left 28 seconds on the clock, allowing Germany to move efficiently downfield making the most of their timeouts and tag on a 39-yard Wiehberg field goal with only a second remaining.
In the third quarter Australia took over on their own nine-yard mark and produced an impressive scoring drive to move within three points of tying the game.
Dorney hit wideout Lewis Wyten for a first down at the 36 and Croasdaile found a gap for another first at midfield. Lansdell and Garnham made key yards, but then on second and 15, Germany’s Robert Zernicke again burst through the line for a sack and loss of 12 yards.
On third and 27 a catch by Wyten took the ball to the 24, but still nine yards short of moving the chains. The ever-confident Australia again gambled and Dorney threw a perfect 25-yard connection to Locklan Gilbert for an unexpected touchdown and the quarterback’s third scoring pass of the game. Down by three points, Australia chose to go for a two-point pass, which fell incomplete.
Both defenses held firm, but with the game in the fourth quarter and time against Australia, Germany sealed victory. Jerome Morris took a handoff on third and short picking up a first down, Washington sped past the defense to again move the chains and on a play action pass Ullrich found Niklas Romer over 43 yards for the game-clincher.