The European Junior Championship features the top American football players aged 19 and under from six countries – Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden – battling for the right to call themselves European Champions in Seville, Spain, from August 28 to September 3.

In the opening game on Sunday, Austria defeated neighboring rival and defending champion Germany 14-7.

Austria alternated three quarterbacks throughout the game, and on their second drive of the game quarterback Christoph Gubisch connected with wide receiver Clemens Erlsbacher for a 22-yard touchdown. Erlsbacher also converted the extra point as Austria took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Germans were unable to respond and committed a turnover on the next possession as game MVP Thomas Oberdorfer forced a fumble to give the ball back to Austria. Oberdorfer led the teams in tackles with 5 solo and 3 assisted. But Austria was unable to take advantage, committing a turnover. The first quarter ended with neither offense able to get a rhythm going as the defenses set the tone of the game.

Late in the second quarter, Germany executed a skillful play to tie the game at 7-7 as the quarterback threw a lateral to Eric Nzeocha who in turn connected with Auriues Adegbesan for a 47-yard touchdown. The game remained tied at 7 at halftime.

After the Austrian defensive line forced Germany to quickly punt the ball away, Austria took advantage of good field position as quarterback Gubisch found Erlsbacher for a gain of 39 yards to the one-yard line. Gubisch took the ball in himself for a touchdown and with a successful extra point Austria went up 14-7.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Austria put together a promising drive but was halted by the German defense then attempted a 19-yard field goal, which was blocked by Benjamin Barnes. Germany used the momentum to move the chains with runs by Manuel Engelmman and catches by Nzeocha and Laurenz Mohr. But Austria’s defense would not let their team lose the lead as Andreas Lunzer came up with a huge interception with five minutes remaining in the game.

After another missed field goal, Germany had one more shot with two minutes left to play, but the drive was filled with penalties as Austria secured the first win of the European Junior Championship. Austria now faces Denmark on Tuesday, August 30, when a win will be good enough to earn a spot in the Gold-Medal game.

»Complete Stats«

The second game of the day featured host Spain putting together an impressive first half performance, taking a shock 10-6 lead against the 2008 European Junior Championship runner-up Sweden.

Sweden gained an early 6-0 advantage in the first quarter as quarterback Emil Sundtroem found Carl Nielsen for a 26-yard touchdown, but the Swedes failed to convert the extra point.

Spain then controlled the remainder of the half as Ian Escoda caught a pass from Rubén Beltrán for Spain’s lone touchdown of the game and with a successful extra point took their first lead of the game. Kicker Alvaro Guitián added to Spain’s lead just before halftime with a 21-yard field goal.

But in the second half, the determined hosts were unable to stop Sweden, who scored 22 unanswered points to win 28-10.

Running back Carl Nielsen ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns, earning MVP honors with his other two touchdowns coming on runs of six and two yards. Sebastian Albins also had a touchdown, catching an 18-yard pass from Sundstroen in the fourth quarter.

Spain will face France on Tuesday, August 30, while Sweden’s next game is also against the nation that finished third in 2008, on September 1.  

European Junior Championship Game Schedule:
August 28, 2011
Group A            10:30                Germany 7 Austria 14
Group B            18:00                Sweden 28 Spain 10
August 30, 2011
Group A            10:30                Austria vs. Denmark
Group B            18:00                Spain vs. France           
September 1, 2011
Group A            10:30                Denmark vs. Germany
Group B            18:00                France vs. Sweden
September 3, 2011
5th place game: 9:30                 
Bronze Medal: 12:30
Gold Medal: 18:30
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