Poland: Bialystok Lowlanders secure playoff first round bye over Tychy Falcons

The Bialystok Lowlanders took advantage of the injury woes of the Tychy Falcons in the final regular season weekend of the Polish Football League, putting on a show of strength in beating the Falcons 42-20.

Although the Falcons started off the season as one of the preseason favorites to win the title, with Bialystok also expected to be in the hunt, the teams appear to have gone in opposite directions as the season progressed.

For Tychy, injuries have been a key factory. After the loss of both starting quarterbacks, first Jules St. Ge and then Gabriel Losada, the Falcons have struggled to assert themselves while the Lowlanders are now a force to be reckoned with a dynamic offense led by Derrick Evans.

A Gabriel Losada-less offense took the field first led by different Falcons each play, including RB Artem Voitovych (#4) and import safety LaParish Lewis (#6). The carousel offense proved ineffective though as Tychy was forced into a three and out on the very first series.

A full-strength Lowlanders side would take the field at the midway point decisively working their way down the field. QB Derrick Evans (#14) got the Lowlanders into the redzone with a 40-yard bomb to wideout Jan Kaminski (#80) on a bootleg to the left. Smelling blood in a depleted Falcon side, the Lowlanders then gambled on a fourth-down with Evans hitting receiver Konrad Marianski (#83) on a 10-yard slant for the score. A failed extra-point after a botched snap kept the score at 6 – 0.

Photo: He&She Fotografia

The exclusively wildcat offense from the Falcons showed markedly more success on the following drive with Lewis completing two passes, but struggled to enter the Lowlander redzone, handing the ball over on downs after a failed fourth-down conversion attempt. Bialystok then mounted a drive almost identical to the first; Evans set up the offense in the redzone with a well placed deep-ball down the sideline before he himself scrambled it in from the five. Bialystok succeeded in a two-point conversion to make it 14 – 0.

This time, the Falcon offense was able to work their way down the field and put together a scoring, but at times messy, drive. This was capped off by Lewis hitting receiver Mateusz Patalas (#81) on a 35-yard, fourth-down last ditch attempt lob after evading would-be tacklers. The extra-point put the Falcons only one score behind.

After a superb effort by the Tychy defense got the ball back on the Lowlander 25 where Lewis went to work, dicing up the opponent’s defense with his legs. But a badly thrown ball by the replacement QB was picked off by safety Jamie Cumberbatch (#2). Evans then went to work on the Tychy secondary who stubbornly left their corners one on one with the Lowlander receivers. On consecutive plays, Evans hit his receivers in stride down the sideline to devour 70 yards before connecting with Frenchman Benjamin Lolmede (#6) in the endzone for the score. The half would end 21 – 7 Lowlanders.

Tychy Falcons QB-DB LaParish Lewis #6 Photo: He&She Fotografia

Bialystok exploded  out the gate in the second half with RB Mikolaj Pawlaczyk (#6) who ran for first down after first down before punching it in from inside the five for the score. With the extra-point successful, the Lowlanders were now starting to run away with the game to secure themselves a bye-week in the first round of the playoffs.

The Falcons, feeling the game starting to slip away, put together another successful drive with dominant running from both Paris and Voitovych who capped the drive with a 20-yard run, shrugging off tacklers as he stormed into the endzone for the score. But the Lowlanders remained ruthless and refused to take their foot off the pedal. In just two plays, they were able to go in for another score off a 30-yard bubble-screen to the French receiver. Lolmede also scored on the following Lowlander drive to make it 42-14 and effectively put the final nail in the coffin for the Tychy.

Backups played the remainder of the game for both sides, outside of Lewis and Evans. A 90-yard TD trick play by Lewis and the Falcons would be the only substantial event in the closing minutes of the game; this would have no bearing on the final result. The game ended 42 – 20 Lowlanders.

Bialystok have now secured the second place seed and will be rewarded a bye week in the first round of playoffs next week. They executed in all three phases and convincingly beat a limping Falcons squad. The Lowlanders have sneakily become one of the most dangerous teams entering the playoffs. Tychy, on the other hand, will now have to play a wild-card game next week, in which they should feel confident, regardless if Losada returns.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.