Hungarian Football League: Budapest Wolves earn number one seed, Andre Whyte surpasses 1000 yards rushing

The Hungarian Football League’s (HFL) regular season wound up this past weekend with all the playoff berths finally decided.

After a good start, the Budapest Wolves struggled but won against the Győr Sharks, while the Fehérvár Enthroners got a last quarter victory against the TD Store Eagles. The Budapest Cowbells got third seed by beating the Tigers, while the Miskolc Steelers got a hard fought win at Dunaújváros.

Fehérvár Enthroners (2-5) 40 – TD Store Eagles (2-5) 20 (0-6, 27-6, 0-8, 13-0)

A classic match-up between the two teams, since 2016 these squads played 4 games against each other, three of them last season in the Division I. with Enthroners dominance. However, this game started out better for the Eagles, A.J. Benson’s grab gave advantage. The equalizer came very soon with Eric Steffes’ first touchdown of the season. Then the Enthroners turned things around: after Csaba Péter’s interceptions Dávid Novakov ran for Fehérvár’s second TD. A.J. Benson answered but the Eagles could not equalize: 13-12. Finally, the Enthroners could get two more touchdowns with Novakov’s run and Csaba Tóth’s catch, which gave a 27-12 advantage for the Enthroners at the break.

Photo: Tamás Battyányi

In the third quarter, the Eagles came back with Gábor Kalovits’ grab and László Benedek’s two point conversion. Nevertheless, the home team could take control of the last period of the game with catches by Nándor Tóth and Csaba Tóth. The Fehérvár Enthroners got fifth place while the Eagles dropped back to seventh position.

Photo: Tamás Battyányi

Fehérvár’s offense had a good day, not just the running backs, but the receivers as quarterback Márk Erős was able to shine after a slow start. In addition, veteran player Csaba Péter also had two interceptions in the second quarter. A.J. Benson posed major threat for the home team’s defense, while defensive back Victors Williams also put up a rather good performance after getting two interceptions and defending several passes.

Budapest Wolves (6-1) 37 – Győr Sharks (2-5) 14 (16-0, 7-0, 7-0, 7-14)

The Wolves wanted to become first seed and started out well in the first half. Attila Sebők gave the lead to the six time champion after blocking a punt and taking the loose ball to the end zone. Then Péter Lenner’s run and Ben Lyons’ field goal gave a 16-0 advantage in the first quarter. In the second period, Márk Bencsics threw a TD pass to Kristóf Madarassy. 23-0 at the break for the Wolves.

Photo: László Becs

The Sharks improved in the third period although they still could not score. The Wolves extended their lead with Darius Lewis’ kick-off return touchdown. In the last period, the Sharks did not let the Wolves to go for mercy rule. Eric Poindexter had two catches and László Becs a two point conversion. Nevertheless, Ádám Elek had an 80 yard grab which ended the game. The Wolves won 37-14 and earned first seed while the Sharks finished in sixth place.

Photo: László Becs

The Wolves offense did not show too much but the fast start and the special team’s performance was just enough to win the game. After a sloppy start, the Sharks had a good second half. Except for Andres Fernandez who stepped up as the leader of the defense during the whole game.

Budapest Cowbells (6-1) 37 – Nyíregyháza Tigers (4-3) 19 (7-7, 14-7, 13-6, 3-6)

Only the third seed was at stake. It was almost sure that the Cowbells will play the Miskolc Steelers and the Tigers face the Budapest Wolves in the playoffs. No matter which team gets the win. The Tigers had injury issues: Greg Williams, Max Nedzelsky and Dávid Verdes were injured, while Brian Gessel was ill and could not play. Gábor Tóth got the chance as quarterback.

The Cowbells took the lead after Richárd Roják’s run but the visitors soon equalized with Clifford Stokes’ catch. Although the Tigers’ defense did a good job, the reigning champion had a two score lead with Márton Mészáros 60 yard catch and Márton Németh’s interception return. 21-7 at the half, but the biggest issue for Nyíregyháza was when Troy Rice had to leave the field because of a shoulder injury.

Photo: Váradi-Király Photo

The Cowbells defense continued to dominate. Although the Tigers got the ball back after the kick-off, Gergely Horváth made a pick-six quickly. Later Márton Czirók ran for another TD. This time Tigers were able to answer with Ivan Oleksiuk’s touchdown. After the kick-off Gábor Papp got back the ball again, but then Tóth gave it away again. The Cowbells took advantage with Csanád Magyar’s field goal. Nyíregyháza had the last score in the game with Stokes’ punt return touchdown. 37-19: the Cowbells earned third seed while the Tigers remain fourth.

Photo: Váradi-Király Photo

The Cowbells defense saved the offense and had two pick-sixes. The Tigers defense also had a good game but the offense’s performance did not look good because of the missing injured players.

Miskolc Steelers (6-1) 24 – DAK Acél Gorillaz (0-7) 10 (14-0, 0-3, 3-0, 7-7)

The Miskolc Steelers was still in race for the number one seed, while the Gorillaz were aiming to finish the season with a win. The game started out better for the visitors. Andre Whyte’s two touchdowns gave an early advantage. In the second quarter, the Gorillaz fought hard on both ends of the ball. The offense kept plays alive with Dániel Hegedüs’ rushes. Finally the home team could score with József Beretka’s field goal. But there was a milestone before the end of the first half: Andre Whyte ran for 1000 yards in the regular season. No one ever reached that number in the HFL. 17-3.

Photo: Dunaújváros online

The second half started a bit slow but the Steelers got the first score with Máté Jónás’ field goal. However, the Gorillaz seemed to come back after Hegedüs ran for a spectacular touchdown. But Miskolc answered quickly with Vasyl Yordan’s TD, thus, ending the game: 24-10. The Steelers remained second seed, while the Gorillaz finished in eighth place.

Photo: Dunaújváros online

The Miskolc Steelers’ good start gave a very quick advantage which made the players calm. With Andre Whyte in your team in Hungary who wants to be nervous. Although the Gorillaz could not get a win, they closed the season with pride. In their last two games they showed passion and determination, but most importantly, the players fought with heart, although Dunaújváros had serious injury issues.

On June 30, the Budapest Wolves will face the Nyíregyháza Tigers at home, while on July 1 the Budapest Cowbells visit the Miskolc Steelers in the semi-finals of the HFL playoffs.

Laszlo Makranczi
László Makranczi is a radio reporter, announcer and American Football journalist in Hungary. He lives in Debrecen and works for the Hungarian American Football Federation. Studied at the University of Debrecen, got a master’s degree in American Studies and he also has another degree in sports journalism. Currently, he is the press manager of the local team Gladiators and supports the Seattle Seahawks.
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