Poland: Bydgoszcz Archers hang on against Bialystok Lowlanders to remain undefeated

A win is a win, no matter how imperfect.

That’s exactly what the Bydgoszcz Archers will be reminding themselves this week.

In a battle of unbeaten teams in Poland, the Archers held on to defeat the two-time Polish Bowl runner-up Bialystok Lowlanders 21-14, but seemed to leave plenty on the table in the outing. Flashes of offensive brilliance from both sides were often punctuated by head-scratching errors in a game that seemed devoid of momentum.

The tape study won’t be glamourous, but the Archers were the cleaner team, outlasting their turnover prone opponent.

Bydgoszcz set that path early as quarterback Jake Schimenz executed a near perfect opening drive, producing by air and on the ground. A 13-yard catch from Jakub Kubacki got the Archers to the goal line and Schimenz punched it in himself for the opening salvo.

The Lowlanders stormed back quickly, with big throws from Derrick Evans to Konrad Marianski and Benjamin Lolmede to get them into the redzone, but Evans badly overthrew his receiver in scoring position and Javier Carrasco picked it off in the endzone. The Archers failed to capitalize and Evans once again moved down the field with the help of his two favorite targets. The quarterback finished by showing off his athleticism, outpacing Jakub Lewandowski to the edge and tip-toeing up the sideline for a 15-yard rushing score.

Archers WR Jakub Kubacki #13 avoiding a tackle Photo Jacek Stańczak Juwel Fotografia

Holding a one-point lead after a failed extra point, the Archers started moving once again. Damian Wesolowski quickly stalled that momentum, bullying past right tackle Przemyslaw Streng to blindside Schimenz and pop the ball loose for Daniel Tarnawaski to recover. The elation was short-lived, as Evans answered with an errant screen pass and Carrasco was waiting once again, returning the interception to the five-yard-line. Three plays later, Schimenz found Mateusz Poneta to extend the lead.

Bydgoszcz wasted little time getting back into the endzone after the intermission.  A spectacular interception from Jamie Cumberbatch on their first drive of the third quarter was erased by pass interference and Schimenz wasn’t shy about putting it back in the air, dropping a 37-yard dime to Jakub Kubacki in behind double coverage to make it 21-6.

A three-and-out and a bad punt gave the Archers back the ball, but Cumberbatch got revenge by holding Schimenz short on fourth and one inside the five to get the ball back. The ensuing drive was unsuccessful, but on his first drop back of the fourth quarter, Schimenz let the ball slip out of his grasp and Konrad Paszkiewicz recovered. Back-to-back sacks from Ksawery Tracz and Arkadiusz Cieslok put a damper on the celebration and a deflected endzone heave from Evans bounced around onto the chest of Wojciech Przysowa for yet another takeaway.

After a brief lightning delay, the Lowlanders finally got the ball rolling. Evans kept the chains moving with his legs and two pass interference penalties set the team up at the two yard line. Krzysztof Czaplejewicz brought in a swing pass for the score and Eryk Makowski added the tw0-point conversion, but the points came too late. Bydgoszcz recovered the onside kick and even a last second punt couldn’t save Bialystok from the 21-14 loss.

Jake Schimenz had a strange outing in the victory, fumbling twice and taking seven sacks while looking consistently poised for a big play. He finished 17 of 25 passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns, adding 40 yards and a score on the ground. Jakub Kubacki led the way with seven catches for 89 yards, Mateusz Poneta had five for 45 yard and both added touchdowns. Spaniard Javier Carrasco had two first half interceptions before exiting with a knee injury.

For the Lowlanders, Derrick Evans racked up 66 yards rushing and a score, but put forth a scattershot performance through the air. He completed 15 of 33 passes for 153 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Konrad Marianski hauled in eight of those for 93 yards, Benjamin Lolmede had five for 50 yards, and Krzysztof Czaplejewicz rushed 12 times for 47 yards to go with his late receiving touchdown.

The Archers emerge from the confusing contest with their perfect record still intact, one of two undefeated teams remaining in Poland. They’ll meet the other in two weeks time in a matchup against the Tychy Falcons, a contest that will require a more polished finish than this one.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.