Berlin Thunder quarterback Jonathan Quinn equalled the league record for touchdown passes in a single game with five in a 41-10 destruction of the Amsterdam Admirals in the race for a place at World Bowl IX.
The Jacksonville Jaguars-allocated passer threw for 289 yards and four of his scoring strikes came in a Thunder-dominated first half that saw them effectively seal victory and second place in the league standings with a 5-4 record.
In a tense climax to the season the Thunder and Admirals meet again in Week 10 at the Amsterdam ArenA site of World Bowl IX, where they will battle for a postseason appearance depending on the fortunes of the Rhein Fire.
The Admirals missed an opportunity to go ahead less than five minutes into the game when kicker Justin Skinner fired a 39-yard field goal wide of the uprights. Amsterdam had driven steadily downfield as quarterback Spergon Wynn sought out receivers Anthony Tucker and Chris Coleman, while running back Spencer George took them to the 8-yard mark before linebacker Joe O'Neill sacked Wynn.
Berlin made the visitors pay as starting from his own 29-yard line Quinn went to receiver Dwaune Jones and tight end Carlos Nuno for crucial gains before a 38-yard pass found Seattle Seahawks-allocated Jones beyond the secondary for a touchdown.
Amsterdam again missed an opportunity to put points on the board when another Skinner field goal attempt, this time a potential four-pointer from 52 yards fell well short of the uprights.
With the ball back in his hands Quinn hit Demetrius Brown for 21 yards, moved the chains again with a pass to Ahmad Merritt and a Rodnick Phillips 9-yard run closed in on the endzone. The durable Jacksonville Jaguars passer took a crucial yard on a third down sneak, then promptly rifled a second touchdown pass of the afternoon to Jones from 9 yards out.
The Thunder defense stepped up as defensive end Antwone Young sacked Wynn, then recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Marc Megna, giving Quinn control again early in the second quarter deep in Admirals territory. Running back Madre Hill carried the workload this time before Quinn threw his third touchdown pass, this time to receiver Corey Bridges for a 21-0 lead.
Wynn enjoyed some success with a pass up the middle to Gerald Harris then successive first downs to tight end Kawasak Penn and Japanese receive Nobutaka Horie. Hill popped up on the left sideline to move the Admirals inside the red zone, but Horie failed to hold a pass in the endzone and tight end John Waerig came down with a third down pass just out of bounds. Amsterdam settled for a 27-yard Silvio Diliberto field goal at the two-minute warning.
In a free-scoring second quarter there was still time for two more touchdowns and only the clock and a desperate tackle prevented another score. Thunder linebacker Dax Strohmeyer stripped the ball and cornerback Wade Davis recovered and Quinn needed one play to find a wide open tight end Scot Osborne for a 28-3 lead.
The Admirals cut the deficit through a 18-yard Wynn strike to Horie with 22 seconds remaining and but for a tackle two yards shy of the endzone as time ran out, Madre Hill would have added a spectacular 60-yard score on the end of a screen pass for an already rampant Berlin.
A third turnover hurt the Admirals as following Billy Gustin's recovery of a ball dropped by Chris Coleman, kicker Scott Bentley extended the Thunder lead to 31-10 with a 39-yard field goal. Quinn then threw his fifth touchdown of the game on the next Thunder possession, this time picking out receiver Demetrius Brown from 19-yard away for a commanding 38-10 lead with two minutes still to play in the third quarter.
When called upon the Thunder defense again stepped up with a red zone stand as German defensive back Lelan Brickus defended a pass in the endzone and Peyton Williams did likewise on third down. When the Admirals went for broke on fourth down George was dragged down short of scoring.
With backup passer Leon Murray now at the helm a steady Thunder drive appeared to stall until punter Brian Moorman scrambled for first down yardage and Berlin eventually settled for a 34-yard Scott Bentley field goal to complete their 41-point haul.