Czech Republic Advances to IFAF Europe Group B With Thrilling Win Over Poland

The Czech Republic withstood a last minute rally from a stubborn Team Poland Sunday to beat them 14-7 and move on to play in the  IFAF Europe Group B tournament in 2016.

The game, played in Pardubice in the Czech Republic, was not without its dramatics as Poland had a chance to tie it with 40 seconds remaining. Polish receiver Tomasz Dziedzic hauled in a 34 yard pass from his brother Bartosz for what looked like the game-tying touchdown only to have the referees confer and rule the catch incomplete. He did not have complete control before landing and fumbling.

Czech quarterback Jan Dundáček ran for 162 yards and scored both touchdowns for the Czechs and kicker Marek Hruboň added two PATs for the win. With the victory the Czech Republic returns to the tournament in which they finished fourth in 2013.

During the first half each team had problems making first downs. But Dundáček was seemingly unstoppable creating problems for the Polish front seven. Although he threw pair of interceptions he kept the Polish defense off balance while giving his team hope. He read Poland’s defense extremely well.

Kamil Ruta, Polish team captain and inside linebacker.

“Dundacek played a fantastic game. It was astonishing when he was running outside, inside and we couldn’t tackle him. Unfortunately our offense woke up too late. We gave up only 14 points – it’s not bad result. I’m proud of this team.”

The Czechs trailed 7-0 after Polish receiver Tomasz Ochnio scored  a seven yard touchdown. With that touchdown, the Warsaw Sharks’ wide receiver made a hat trick this fall (scoring touchdowns against Belgium, Russia and Czech Republic). A few minutes later Dundáček found the end zone on 11-yard running play evening the score at 7-7.

Czech Rep. - Czech v Poland action

Photo: Dariusz Jacek, Interception website

Dundáček was supported by Prague Lions running back Lukas Ruzek and Adam Synacek who had played in the Polish top division a few years ago. Late in the fourth quarter Dundáček scored again on a nine yard run for what turned out to be the winning touchdown.

Tomasz Dziedzic was impressed with the Czech team:

“The Czechs are a tough team. Their receivers are tall and have great hands. And their defensive line had pressure on us all the time.”

The Czech defensive line got to Poland’s quarterback Bartosz Dziedzic several times pressuring him all game and sacking him six times. Defensive linemen Matěj Večes and Vojtěch Svoboda gave the Polish offensive line problems all day. The only problem they had was with Babatunde “Babs” Aiyegbusi who played his first game in Europe after spending the NFL preseason with the Minnesota Vikings. Babs played solid game but he was not as much of a factor in the running game.

Despite the cold and windy weather, the atmosphere was fantastic. The crowd enjoyed a hard physical battle and cheered loudly for both teams.

Check out all  the touchdowns from the game plus post-game interviews.

Photo credit: Dariusz Jacek, Interception 

Piotr Bera is a Polish sportswriter and American football commentator. He also works for the Polska Press Grupa.