Cowboys Conquer Knights
Posted by Salman Mitha
Posted in GFL
Dante Stadium, Munich – Heading into the season, many wondered how the Munich Cowboys would react after spending most of last season on the brink of relegation, surviving by the skin of their teeth in the relegation playoffs.
If the season opener was any indication, the team may reach its goal of the real playoffs this season, on the road to the German Bowl.
Fabien Gärtner ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Cowboys to a 30-14 win over the Franken Knights in the GFL. Garrett Andrews made an impressive debut as the team’s main wide receiver, catching 7 passes for 132 yards including a 47-yard bomb from Patrick Carey.
The Knights were coming off a season-opening win the week before against two-time German Bowl Champions Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, thanks to four touchdowns from all-purpose QB Cedric Townsend, and he would test the Cowboys defense early.
Townsend marched the Knights 80 yards down the field in 10 plays, running for 30 yards and throwing 5-of-6 for 42 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown pass to Timothy Knüttel for the early 7-0 lead.
Franken (1-1) allowed Munich to get back into the game and take over by committing mental errors and turnovers.
Carter Gunn fumbled the long snap before punting the ball away, giving the ball back to the Cowboys in excellent field position. Five plays later, Gärtner scored easily from the one-yard line. Carey and Andrews looked great on two plays, including a 23-yard over-the-shoulder catch by Andrews.
The wet weather was a minor factor, there were troubles with snap exchanges. However, both teams exchanged fumbles, more to do with careless play. But the early turnovers did not effect either team.
Gärtner continued his power running display from a year ago, a nice burst up the middle for 36 yards helped get the Cowboys into scoring position. Robert Werner converted a 35-yard field goal to give Munich the lead 10-7.
Sensing a time to step up, Townsend tried to recapture his form from the first scoring drive. He was pressured the entire game, which was the plan from the Cowboys. Townsend was able to get away in the opening drive, but this time, he got careless, throwing up a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Ryan Newell.
With another short field, Carey found Andrews twice and then kept the ball himself for a short gain. Gärtner did the rest, a draw play up the middle, cutting to the right side and into the endzone for a 15-yard score.
Franken came right back to answer, now down 17-7. Townsend was brilliant once again, taking the Knights to the Cowboys’ 22 yard line. But the defensive line for Munich were able to force Townsend out of the pocket and into another mistake, throwing up a lazy pass that Newell ran to and cut off from the intending receiver. The Cowboys were able to close out the first half with the lead.
The next time Townsend touched the ball proved to be costly, as not only did he turn it over, the Cowboys had time to score and finish off the game.
When his pocket collapsed again, Townsend this time ran. However, defensive lineman Maximilian Wild chased him down and knocked the ball loose, and Newell fell on it near midfield.
Carey didn’t waste any time to make the Knights pay, he found Andrews going long down the right sideline for the touchdown and a 24-7 lead.
The Knights continued to fall on their swords, committing two drive-killing penalties to force a punt on the next drive. Munich was able to get down the field and Werner kicked a 28-yard field goal.
If there was a time for the visitors to come back, it would have to be before the 4th quarter, and they would that on the legs of Townsend. Once again, he was pressured out of the pocket, he avoided a sack, ran to the right sideline, then headed up field and just ran right by everyone for a 47-yard TD run.
Munich was able to get one more Werner field goal, a 26-yarder, for some breathing room at 30-14.
The Cowboys defense was much maligned last year, but continued to apply pressure on Townsend, not deterred by his playmaking abilities. They were able to hold off one final drive, stopping Franken at their own 10-yard-line. They contained Townsend, applied pressure at the right time to prevent him from getting comfortable, and forced him to commit four turnovers. Townsend finished 15-for-32, 130 yards with two INTs and was sacked twice. He did run for 151 yards.
His counterpart Carey was solid, 15-for-23, 198 yards and no INTs, but he did lose a fumble. His leadership and consistency will be key if the Cowboys are to develop this season.
Both Munich’s defense and offense will be tested by the Unicorns next week, who got over their season-opening loss by taking out on the Rhein-Neckar Bandits 51-13. Last year, Munich lost 48-0 at Schwäbisch Hall.
Franken will enjoy a bye-week to get back on track and travel to take on the Bandits on the road next week.
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