They’ve paid their dues. Overtime after overtime. They’ve done their best, put it all on the line. And bad mistakes, they’ve Mermaid a few, had their share of last-gasp field goals kicked in their face … but now they’ve come through!!
The Copenhagen Towers are the champions – our friends. Last Saturday, they defeated defending champions Triangle Razorbacks 28-21 in Randers to secure their first Mermaid Bowl since 1995. Following wins in the under-16s and under-19s cups, the triumph completed a historic treble.
The victories crown a season of the like that no other gridiron team in Denmark has ever seen.
Razors come back to lead
The game started out with a dominant performance by the Towers, who controlled matters in the first quarter and the early parts of the second. But then things changed. Down 0-14, the Razorbacks turned in 14 unanswered points in the second quarter.
The Towers coaches spent the halftime break motivating the team. They knew that the Razorbacks would receive the ball in the second half, so stopping them on the first drive was key. And the defence did in fact force the Razorbacks to punt on their first two possessions.
Nevertheless, the Razorbacks scored again in the third quarter to take the lead. At this point the Towers looked shaky in both offence and defence. But in the fourth quarter the Towers showed some much needed resolve and determination.
The defence, in bend but don’t break mode, held the Razorbacks in check, while the offence got back in sync. RB Casper Jensen produced good yardage and several first downs, before QB JR Artozqui found WR Lasse Tor in the endzone to tie the game 21-21.
Tied with 44 seconds to go
On second down on the seven-yard line the Towers turned to classic power-football. The game clock showed 0:44 left in the game. The offensive linemen went to head coach Peter Herbild with some coaching advice of their own: “We’re the heaviest o-line in the country. Give Jannik the ball and we’ll get him in!!”
The ultimate players’ coach Herbild took his players’ advice. And to great effect. Initially stopped short, FB Jannik Linden kept his legs pumping behind a bruising offensive line. After what seemed like an eternity, the pile, and with it Linden, broke the goal line. The Towers were back in the lead.
Then followed the longest 35 seconds in recent Towers memory. The explosive Razorbacks offence got the ball back and went to work. After an incomplete pass and a holding penalty that was declined by the Towers, Razorbacks QB Ken Suhl went deep. That’s when safety Magnus Bitsch sealed the win with his second interception of the game. The Towers could run out the time.
Saluting the heroes
Tor, with three touchdowns, was understandably named Mermaid Bowl MVP. His touchdowns were all spectacular catches in stride while heavily covered.
Towers centre Jesper Allenberg went down while trying to make a tackle on an interception return in the third quarter. He stayed on the field for quite a while, visibly in pain. Trainers helped him off the field and tended to his arm on the sideline. Finally an ambulance picked up Allenberg, but he refused to leave until he had seen the rest of the game from the open door of the ambulance. Later on, Allenberg texted an x-ray shot showing a complete fracture of his upper arm.
While the team shined at some points and struggled at others, the overall performance was solid. The Razorbacks managed to give QB Ken Suhl good time in the pocket during the middle part of the game, but Towers DBs Christian Dinesen and Markus Sørensen Karenkewitsch came up with several crucial pass breakups.
Safety Magnus Bitsch, celebrating his 23rd birthday, played at an all-star level. He got himself in position to make a third interception in the game, but didn’t quite get a hold of the ball. When not hawking balls, he made life miserable for ball carriers with jarring hits.
QB JR Artozqui, finishing his fourth season with the Towers, was ecstatic. After 2012’s bitterly disappointing semi-final loss he – and the rest of the team – felt that this was their year. Artozqui overthrew his receivers on a few occasions, but also delivered picture perfect passes to Tor for his three touchdowns.
RB Casper Jensen was used sparingly in the first half and thus never got into gear. In the second half Jensen, along with fellow RB Mads Hermansen, got more carries and seemed to pick up steam as the game went on. Towards the end of the game Jensen posted runs of seven yards, ten yards and the like.
The Towers did have turnover issues, with an interception and two fumbles lost, but it serves to the team’s credit that neither turnover was allowed to affect the subsequent play. In each case the Towers followed up with stout defence and solid offence.
Some 1,610 fans created an electric, but somewhat hostile atmosphere at Randers’ AUTO C Park. From the kick-off, regular chants of “Razor, Razor, Razor” were clearly heard. However, during the final minutes of the game, the Razorback chants died out and gave way to steadfast Towers chants from a dedicated group of fans who had made the long trip from Copenhagen.
Eighteen years had passed since the Towers lifted the Mermaid Bowl trophy last time. Only FB Jannik Linden (Roskilde Kings), WR Lau Mikkelsen (Roskilde Kings and Avedøre Monarchs) and coach Carsten ICE Jensen had ever played a Mermaid Bowl until last Saturday.
With the win, the Towers capped their second straight undefeated regular season with two play-off wins to make the record 12-0 for the season.
What’s even more remarkable is that the Towers are the first ever team in Danish football to win both the Mermaid Bowl and the Junior Bowl (under-19s championship) in the same season. Prior to the Mermaid Bowl, the Towers outlasted the Kolding Guardians for a 31-20 win in the Junior Bowl. And two weeks earlier, the Towers under-16s team became champions of their age group, when they won the Future Bowl.
All in all, 2013 will enter the history books as the collectively most successful season in Towers history.