May 27, 2016

2006: Galaxy Run Over Admirals for NFL Europa Title

World Bowl XIV, the championship game of NFL Europa (the re-named NFL Europe) on May 27, 2006, was billed as a showdown between the formidable ground attack of the Frankfurt Galaxy and the pass-oriented offense of the Amsterdam Admirals.

The Admirals, coached by Bart Andrus for the sixth season, were the defending champs of the developmental league and had swept the season series with Frankfurt, but were also without QB Gibran Hamdan, who had a passer rating of 113.4 until suffering a broken ankle with three games to play. The effect of the loss of Hamdan did not bode well; the Admirals were 6-1, averaging 30 points per game, with Hamdan behind center but 1-2, scoring just 17 points per contest, in his absence.

The Galaxy, also 7-3 under Head Coach Mike Jones, had set an NFL Europa record with 1750 rushing yards and featured the circuit’s leading ground gainer in RB Roger “Rabbit” Robinson, who gained 1087 yards of that total.

There were 36,286 fans in attendance at Dusseldorf’s LTU Arena, and they saw a first half that was dominated by the two defenses. Frankfurt scored first with less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter when DT Jerome Nichols sacked Amsterdam QB Jared Allen in the end zone for a safety. In the second quarter, the Admirals put together a drive of 55 yards in seven plays that ended with RB Larry Croom running for a 12-yard touchdown and, with Ryan Killeen adding the extra point, Amsterdam took a 7-2 lead into halftime.

On Frankfurt’s first series of the third quarter, RB Butchie Wallace (pictured above), who had carried just once in the first thirty minutes, ran the ball five times, the last for a four-yard touchdown to cap an eight-play, 66-yard possession that set the tone for the second half. David Kimball successfully converted and, shortly thereafter, safety Brandon Haw intercepted an Allen pass and returned it 27 yards to set up a 29-yard Kimball field goal that extended the Galaxy’s lead to 12-7.

Early in the fourth quarter, Frankfurt scored again following a long drive that covered 62 yards in 14 plays and ran 8:42 off the clock. The series featured 10 rushes for 51 yards by Wallace and concluded with another Kimball field goal, this time from 37 yards, to make it a 15-7 contest.

The Galaxy put the game away thanks to a 63-yard run by Wallace with 1:46 left to play that set up a 12-yard touchdown carry by FB J.R. Niklos, who ran the ball just twice during the contest but did a noteworthy job of blocking. Kimball kicked the point after and Frankfurt won by a final score of 22-7.

The Galaxy gained 269 yards on 42 running plays while completing just seven passes for 72 yards. Amsterdam managed only 86 yards through the air and accumulated 109 yards on the ground, giving Frankfurt a big overall yardage lead of 341 to 195. First downs were more evenly divided, with the Galaxy holding a 16 to 15 edge. Frankfurt also accounted for six sacks, to one by the Admirals, and Amsterdam also suffered the game’s only turnover.

Butchie Wallace, who was cut during training camp and didn’t rejoin the Galaxy until the fifth week, rushed for 143 yards on 18 carries and was chosen as the game’s MVP. Roger Robinson overcame a slow first half performance to gain 96 yards on 19 attempts. As for the passing of Frankfurt’s two quarterbacks, Jeff Otis was five of 12 for 32 yards and Bryson Spinner made good on two of seven throws for 43 yards. WR Aaron Hosack led the club in pass receiving with three catches for 47 yards.

For the Admirals, Jared Allen was successful on 13 of 26 passes for 126 yards with no TDs and one interception. RB Larry Croom gained 82 yards on 14 carries that included a TD and also caught five passes for another 40 yards. WR Skyler Fulton accumulated 41 yards on his four receptions.

“Without a question, we are a running team and we did what we do best,” summed up Frankfurt’s Coach Jones.

“In the second half, they just ran it at us, play after play,” said Amsterdam DE Earl Cochrane.

The World Bowl victory marked the fourth title for Frankfurt, a record for the league. The Galaxy returned to the title game in 2007, but lost to the Hamburg Sea Devils. Amsterdam dropped to 4-6 in what was NFL Europa’s final season.

The 2006 season was the only one for Butchie Wallace, who had been a productive but injury-plagued player in college at Marshall. Undrafted by the NFL, his performance in the World Bowl drew interest and he signed with the Atlanta Falcons but was sidelined by a torn Achilles tendon and released in 2007.