Cologne Tar Heels (er, Centurions) Report: NFL Europa Week 10
Posted by Mike on June 22, 2007
(There are only two players from the University of North Carolina currently in NFL Europa: Bobby Blizzard and Cedrick Holt. They both play for the Cologne Centurions. Being the unabashed Tar Heel that I am, the Centurions thus command my attention.)
Tar Heels Centurions came into the final week of the NFL Europa regular season with a chance to make their first trip to the World Bowl. However, they would first have to overcome perhaps their toughest challenge of the season: going on the road to play the NFLE powerhouse Frankfurt Galaxy. It turned out to be too difficult a challenge, as they lost 31-14 and were eliminated from World Bowl XV contention.
The offense seemed to play well from a basic statistical perspective. Once again the NFLE’s premier rushing attack was effective, gaining 126 yards on the ground as Derrick Ross had another 100 yard game. Erik Meyer didn’t have a bad game either, completing 25 of his 33 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. However, nearly all of those stats were amassed in the second half, after Frankfurt had already gained a 24-0 lead. In the first half, the Frankfurt defense dominated, allowing no points. In five possession, Cologne punted four times, including 3 three-and-out possessions, and one missed 40 yard field goal. UNC alum Bobby Blizzard only had 35 receiving yards, but scored Cologne’s only passing touchdown.
Cologne’s offense sputtered in the first half; however, it was the collapse of the Centurions’ top-ranked defense that doomed them. Frankfurt had a field day on offense, led by quarterbacks J.T. O’Sullivan and Kevin Eakin. They combined for 286 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a combined QB rating of 142.9. The Galaxy never had to punt, and they had a chance to score on every possession (except when they took a knee to end the first half). In total, Frankfurt amassed 379 yards of offense, 297 of which were during the Galaxy’s 24 unanswered points to start the game.
The Cologne Centurions finish 6-4 on the season, just short of a World Bowl Berth. However, the team did sweep the NFLE player of the year awards in 2007. Running back Derrick Ross was named Co-offensive POY (along with Frankfurt’s J.T. O’Sullivan), and defensive end Jason Hall was named defensive POY.
World Bowl XV
With this win, the Frankfurt Galaxy will play in World Bowl XV on Saturday. Their opponent will be the Hamburg Sea Devils, who earned a berth with a season-ending win over the Rhein Fire. This year’s World Bowl should be very exciting. With Frankfurt and NFLE’s best fanbase hosting the game, the World Bowl is expecting a sellout crowd, which would be the largest crowd to see an American Football game in continental Europe since World Bowl X in 2002.
Attendance numbers are up this season. For the first time in NFL Europe history, average attendance for the season will exceed 20,000 per game. To put that in perspective, that gives the NFLE the world’s tenth largest per game attendance for a domestic league, ahead of the Italian Serie A and just behind French Ligue 1. Frankfurt’s average home attendance was 33, 043, which is approximately the average attendance at an English Premier League game.
Unfortunately, you probably aren’t going to be able to watch World Bowl XV, as it will only be broadcast on the NFL Network in America, and very few Americans have NFLN. While this the the last meaningful football game until September, at least you’ll be spared the pregame entertainment.