VIDEO: Poland Edges Russia for 2nd Ever Win in International American Football

As 3,500 spectators looked on at Lublin Stadium in Poland, Team Poland scored a first quarter touchdown and then held on in a defensive battle to defeat Russia 7-0 and record their second ever victory. They had beaten Belgium a month ago in  Gdynia, Poland.

The game was played in a downpour at times which limited both offenses to the ground game. Polish quarterback Bartek Dziedzic struggled completing only 5 of 16 passes for 66 yards, but threw the only touchdown pass of the game and led the team in rushing. Russia’s three quarterbacks, Anton Bagautdinov, Egor Popov and Pavel Levashev combined for eight completions on 16 attempts for 82 yards in the wet conditions.

Poland - Poland v Russia action3

Poland’s defense stymied the Russian running game

Wide receiver Tomasz Ochnio made a spectacular catch at the back of the end zone late in the first quarter on a 25 yard pass from Dziedzic for the winning touchdown. But the rest of the game was dominated by the defenses. Russia could not mount any offense and did not get past midfield until late in the second quarter as the Polish front seven was relentless.

The value of special teams and the punting game was clearly evident on this day as Team Russia was forced to punt nine times during the game but averaged only 26 yards a punt giving Poland decent  field position the entire game. Poland’s punting game was not much better as Krzysztof Wis punted seven times but still averaged 35 yards a kick which helped keep Russia pinned in their own end.

A little over two minutes after the touchdown, Poland had a chance to extend the lead. After a mounting 10-play drive from their own 31 yard line Polish kicker Dawid Pańczyszyn’s 39 yard field goal attempt was blocked .

Poland controlled the game in the second half and again found themselves deep in Russian territory only to fumble the ball away on Russia’s 23 yard line.

Poland - Poland v Russia action - interception

Tomasz Ochnio scored the only TD of the game

That was as close as either time got for the rest of the game. Needless to say Polish head coach Brad Arbon was happy with the win:

“The potential of the two teams is certainly higher than what we saw today on the pitch. Both defenses played fantastic today, making it difficult for either offense to perform well.”

Viktor Dobriyakov, head coach of Russian national team was not displeased with the result:

“It was a very valuable test for us before our qualifying game against Norway for the European Championship. We hope to face Poland again in the near future as we felt very comfortable here in Lublin.”

Poland is getting ready to face the Czech Republic next month in a crucial qualifying game. Brad Arbon:

“We film every practice and study the film. Our roster decision will thus not only be based on performances during the games but also on how each player practices too.  We are also looking beyond the Czech game to the 2017 World Games which will be held in Poland. We have 80 players and each one of them has a chance to make the team.”

Poland v. Russia – Game Highlights

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.