Towers crumble in the face of the Black Panther power

Following a scoreless first half, an American running back proves to be the difference, scoring three touchdowns to see the French side make the EFAF Cup Final

In football the adage “Bend, but don’t break” is a classic. Essentially it means that you can allow your opponent to move the ball, but never allow him to break a big play. 

On Saturday, in their EFAF Cup semi-final against the Thonon Black Panthers – a winner-takes-all single leg to reach the final of the ‘Europa League’ of European gridiron – the Copenhagen Towers’ defence lived up to just that, in all but two plays. It proved extremely costly as American running back Alex Thomas, formerly of Yale University, scored for the Black Panthers from two outside runs of 80 and 90 yards, to lead his side to a 19-7 victory. 

In each case, the Black Panthers’ offence managed to seal off the Towers’ defenders and thus leave it to Thomas to win the footrace to the outside. 

In between his two huge runs, Thomas scored from 20 yards out on a pass play on a daring 4th and long playcall. A key player in the game, Thomas was named ‘Most Valuable Player’ for his efforts. 

But as is sometimes the case with stats, the numbers don’t do the Towers justice. The defence played an outstanding game; the run defence kept the Panthers’ backs in check for the majority of the game. The pass defence kept Panthers QB Max Sprauel on his toes – and a few times left him on his back.

The French QB played an entire 2012 Diamond League season without throwing a single interception. However, on Saturday, defensive back Victor Andersen got the better of Sprauel, when he got in position to record his first European pick. 

Towers head coach Peter Herbild, and rightfully so, was immensely proud of his squad afterwards. “I cannot say enough about this Towers football team,” he said. “Hard working, ambitious and fun to be around. On Saturday the average age on defence was 23 – their performance was outstanding. The potential of this unit has no end.”

The Panthers defence was served a heavy dose of running back Casper Jensen throughout the day. However, the Towers’ big plays came through the air. Making a rare appearance in offence, defensive back Desi Barbour caught an Artozqui pass for 60 yards and scored a touchdown in the third quarter. 

Artozqui hit several of his receivers, including Lorenz Stäheli, who could practically see his home country of Switzerland from the field, for big gains. 

But the bread and butter for the Towers was the running game. Casper Jensen saw extensive action, while back-up Mads Hermansen carried the ball on a few occasions. 

With the win the Black Panthers earned a berth in this year’s EFAF Cup Final, which will be contested on July 13. The second semi-final was also played in Nice on Saturday. The hosts, the Nice Dauphins, lost 15-16 to the L’Hospitalet Pioners from just southwest of Barcelona, Spain. Thus, while the 2012 EFAF Cup was an all-Danish affair between the Søllerød Gold Diggers and the Triangle Razorbacks, the 2013 edition will be a French-Spanish affair. 

The game was streamed by Panthers TV in good quality. The game was watched in as far-away places as Pittsburgh and La Habra in the USA, and Shanghai, China.

But with the worldwide exposure comes higher costs – most notably those associated with travelling to away games. “The Towers are very thankful for the financial contributions of Gentofte Council, HH Solutions, Oilfield Solutions and NorRep, the club noted after the game. “Each of these contributions has helped us ease the financial burden of playing internationally for our players. Thank you all.”