Bialystok Lowlanders survive scare, defeat Tychy Falcons

The Bialystok Lowlanders used a strong second half to come from behind and finally overcome a stubborn Tychy Falcons squad downing them 44-32 in Tychy, Poland as the Polish Liga Futbolu Amerykańskiego past the midpoint of the season.

The Lowlanders had taken control and jumped out to a 22-6 second quarter lead only to watch the Tychy Falcons tie the game 22-22 by halftime.

It took a four touchdown performance by Glen Toonga who gained 115 of his 173 yards rushing in the second half along with three of his four scores, to finally put away the Falcons and qualify for the playoffs. Tychy actually took a fourth quarter 32-31 lead before the Bialystok defense forced three fumbles in the last two minutes of the game, leading to two touchdowns. And the Lowlanders had to finish off the game without the services of their starting quarterback Brandon Gwinner who was ejected for kicking an opponent as well as defensive back and kick returner Tommy Kaczocha for an unknown transgression.

Gwinner threw for only 113 yards and one touchdown while rushing for another 38 and a score. Kaczocha caught an eight yard touchdown pass and generally created havoc with his defensive play (he had a key interception) and kickoff and punt returns.

Lowlanders DB/KR Tommy Kaczocha Photo: Jean-Francois Nicollet

For the Falcons, quarterback Niklas Gorny threw for 207 yards and three touchdowns with wide receiver Jan Szwej, Dominik Niedkiela and Tomasz Nowak catching one each. Niedkiela led all receivers with six catches for 95 yards and the touchdown. Defensive back Rashad Still added an interception return for a touchdown. However, Tychy was only able to muster 37 yards yards rushing on the day.

The scoring opened with the Lowlanders getting the ball in Falcons territory and then Gwinner punching the ball in from the three seven plays later to take an 8-0 lead. Still’s pick six closed the gap to 8-6 before Toonga scored his first of four early in the second period to make it 15-6. Then Kaczocha first returned an interception down to the Falcons 10 yard line and then caught the touchdown pass to extend the lead to 22-6.

That’s when Tychy seemed to find another gear.

First Szwej hauled in a screen pass and with blockers in front of him raced 53 yards to the end zone to narrow the lead to 22-14. Then, with the defense playing inspired football, forcing a fumble, the offense got rolling helped by the superb catching ability of Niedkiela who pulled down a 32 yard reception to bring the ball to the five yard line and then caught the scoring pass. With Szwej catching the two-point conversion pass, the Falcons tied the game at 22-22 at the half.

A quarterback sack by the Bialystok defense on the Falcons second possession of the third quarter made it 24-22 and then Toonga scored his second of the game later in the third quarter on an 11 yard run to increase the lead to 31-22 heading into the fourth quarter.

The Tychy offense found new life as Gorny marched them down to the Lowlanders four yard line from his own 19 from where they kicked a field goal. They may only have come away with three points but they made a statement.

Falcons WR Dominik Niedkiela had 95 yards receiving and 1 TD Photo: Jean-Francois Nicollet

With the score 31-25, the Falcons managed to get the ball back following a Lowlanders fumble at midfield. A beautifully executed flea flicker play with Mateusz Patalas catching the ball for a 36 yard gain brought the ball to the seven. Nowak caught a seven yard scoring pass from Gorny and suddenly with not much time left, Tychy took a 32-31 lead.

It was time enough for Bialystok as it turns out. The defense rose up, first stripping the usually sure handed Niedkiela of the ball at the Falcons 23 yard line. A penalty took the ball to the 10 and Toonga scored two plays later to regain the lead for the Lowlanders, 37-32.

Then a fumbled punt return by the Falcons gave Bialystok the ball at the Tychy 16 yard line. With Toonga now playing quarterback for the ejected Gwinner, it took him three plays to find the end zone to score his fourth touchdown.

With the 44-32 win, Bialystok remains undefeated with a 4-0 record. with the Wroclaw Panthers at 3-0 right behind. The two are scheduled to face each other on the final weekend of the regular season. Next up for the Falcons are the Bydgoszcz Archers in the last game of the year, on October 18 to decide the third and fourth spots and the final playoff seeding.

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