Cowboys Survive Hurricanes to Make Playoffs
In front of their home fans at the Dante Stadium, Blake Barnes threw for four touchdown passes - three to Garett Andrews - as the Munich Cowboys defeated the Saarland Hurricanes 35-21 despite turning the ball over six times.
In almost identical fashion to last week, QB Barnes started off on fire with three completed passes in three consecutive plays. The final one ended with a 10-yard pass to Moussa Ndiaye who gave the Cowboys an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
However, if there is one issue hanging around Barnes it is the interception bug that he appears to have picked up. Looking for more, Barnes’ pass deflected off Benedikt Englmann and Saarland defensive back Jaron DeShazor stepped in front to stop a drive.
The Hurricanes took advantage of the turnover, and QB Dan Dobson went alone for a 1-yard plunge to tie the game. From the ensuing kickoff, Munich fumbled, giving Saarland a short field. But Bill Doody, as he so often does, came up with a big play and jumped on a loose ball after Bastian Schmidt was stripped whilst trying to make a catch.
In extraordinary scenes, Fabien Gärtner gave it right back losing control on the next play, allowing the grateful linebacker Moritz Böse to pick up the loose ball.
Dobson and the ‘Canes would cash in once again on a Munich turnover. Andre Buford took a Dobson screen pass 34-yards to the right through the middle of the defense, giving the visitors a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Cowboys were able to settle down and tied the game in the second quarter. Barnes found Andrews in the back of the endzone for their first connection of the afternoon. The game stayed tied (14-14) at halftime after the Hurricanes missed a field goal attempt and time ran out on their last drive.
Munich were lucky that the score was tied after giving the ball away four times but their defense, as it so often has in recent weeks, had kept them in the game, pressuring and disrupting Dobson throughout.
Saarland had the ball to start the second half and this time it was their carelessness that cost them. Dobson’s pass was picked off by Boris Mistrafovic and four plays later, Barnes and Andrews connected again for a 12-yard score to put the Cowboys 21-14 ahead.
The Cowboys defense now had the Hurricanes’ number defensively, forcing a three-and-out. The Blake-to-Andrews touchdown machine scored for the third time following a strong defensive outing, this time executing a 35-yard pass down the sideline.
Despite their lead, Munich’s turnover troubles struck again. Barnes threw his third interception at the end of the third quarter and Philipp Vinzenz lost the ball after making a reception early in the fourth.
Dobson continued to be Saarland’s most consistent player, rushing for his second touchdown of the game - a 13-yard run to bring his team back to within one score (28-21).
The Cowboys defense came through again, stopping the Saarland offense and giving the ball back to the Cowboys, who kept the ball on the ground to run out the clock. Gärtner got the carries and grinded his way to the pay dirt, finally scoring on a 5-yard run up the middle to complete the win.
Saarland suffered their eighth defeat in a row and fall to 2-9 for the season. Munich’s victory takes them to 8-3-1 this year, a result that puts them in the playoffs. The key has been both the improved defensive performance and the seamless transition at QB. Since taking over for the injured Patrick Carey, Barnes has led the Cowboys to a 6-1 record, throwing 22 TDs in the process. He will have to control the number of INTs in the post season though. If he does, the Cowboys could be looking at a true fairytale story after last year’s 2-11-1 record.
Munich Cowboys are at home (Dante Stadium) next and face the Stuttgart Scorpions on Saturday, September 7th at 4pm.