Hungarian Football League: Playoffs berths set, fight is on for higher seeds

All four championship contenders won their games in the sixth round of the Hungarian Football League’s regular season last weekend.

The Budapest Cowbells struggled but won against the Győr Sharks in Fót, while the Budapest Wolves got an easy road victory against the TD Store Eagles. The Nyíregyháza Tigers also defeated the DAK Acél Gorillaz at home and the Miskolc Steelers crushed the Fehérvár Enthroners in Felsőzsolca.

Budapest Cowbells (5-1) 31 – Győr Sharks (2-4) 14 (10-0, 7-14, 7-0, 7-0)

The reigning champion Cowbells were ahead in a very difficult game against an improving Győr Sharks team but the visitor’s defense caused a lot of problems for the offense. Nick Canter’s touchdown reception and Kamilló Fóra’s field goal gave  the Cowbells a first quarter advantage. However, Győr fought back! Eric Poindexter’s 47 yard catch from John Ross Hudson made the gap closer and then Andres Fernandez blocked Csanád Magyar’s punt, picked up the loose ball and carried it back to the end zone. The Sharks’s defense started to dominate, but the Cowbells offense got back the lead before the end of the half with Richárd Roják’s run: 17-14.

Photo: Gabriella Kraus

In the second half, the Cowbells offense continued to struggled but still put points up on the board. In addition, the defense helped out a lot. László Boros’ and Márton Mészáros’ catch closed the game and the Cowbells secured their place in the playoffs with a 31-14 win.

Photo: Gabriella Kraus

The running game of the Cowbells started to work again, however, Roják is the only one who head coach Karim Trabelsi can count on. Quarterback Márton Czirók is getting better in each game. The Sharks’ defense again had a good game but the offense could only work for one half. Andres Fernandez has a great impact on the team’s performance.

Budapest Wolves (5-1) 37 – TD Store Eagles (2-4) 0 (23-0, 14-0, 0-0, 0-0)

The best game for the Budapest Wolves’ defense, and the worst day for quarterback Olivér Wágner. In the first half, the six time champion could score from every turnovers they forced out from the Eagles. Nonetheless, Darius Lewis got the first points on a 25 yard touchdown grab. But then, Norbert Hunka’s interception turned the ball back to the Wolves. Márk Bencsics (QB) connected with Máté Gecser for a 60 yard catch. Wágner threw another interception, this time to Gergely Homoki and then Ben Lyons kicked a field goal. The agony for the Eagles’ quarterback had not ended: Richárd Madarassy picked off a pass and carried it back for a pick-six. Wágner gave the ball away two more times. First, Homoki recovered a fumble and Gecser got another TD-grab after it, and then Madarassy’s second interception was followed by Csaba Majoros’ catch. 37-0 at the half with the mercy rule underway.

Photo: János Gábor Hidvégi

In the second half, both teams had a turnover each but the heavy rain ruined the game, thus, the score remained; 37-0 for the Wolves.

Photo: János Gábor Hidvégi

The visitors’ defense had their best game in the whole season getting four interceptions, two fumble recoveries and a pick-six, and the offense took advantage of them. The Eagles underperformed during the game, especially Olivér Wágner, who had a horrible first half but had the mental strength to come back into the second half.

Miskolc Steelers (4-1) 48 – Fehérvár Enthroners (1-5) 13 (13-6, 21-0, 7-0, 7-7)

After a game of struggles, the Steelers were able to put a solid one together against the Enthroners thanks to Andre Whyte, Vasyl Yordan and the receivers. Mauricio Uribe’s catch gave advantage for last year’s runner-up, but with Antonio Roane’s run, Fehérvár could equalize early. After that, the Steelers controlled the game Pawel Lesiv had two, while Andre Whyte had one TD-reception, the latter  even ran for another touchdown. 34-6 at the half.

Photo: Tamás Battyányi

In the third quarter, the Steelers activated the mercy rule with Csaba Fenyvesi’s catch. Although Dávid Novakov scored for the Enthroners in the fourth period, Whyte finalized the score for the Steelers. Miskolc earned a decisvie 48-13 win before heading into the Eastern derby with the Nyíregyháza Tigers.

Photo: Tamás Battyányi

Throughout the whole game, the Steelers could keep the ball moving by making big plays. Vasyl Yordan threw 5 touchdown passes, while Whyte continued to shine and had 3 TDs. The Enthroners will surely have some difficulties heading into the last game of the regular season since Antonio Roane could be out due to a hand injury.

Nyíregyháza Tigers (4-1) 28 – DAK Acél Gorillaz (0-6) 7 (14-0, 14-0, 0-0, 0-7)

The Tigers had to make some changes after the loss against the Wolves and indeed they did. Nyíregyháza had a sparkling first half on offense and defense as well. The Tigers led by 14-0 after Troy Rice’s 44 yard catch and Brian Gessel’s run in the first quarter. But the defense with Greg Williams leading the way, did not even let the Gorillaz gain a first down in the first period. In the second quarter, Péter Konkoly and Troy Rice made a four possession lead for the Tigers.

Photo: Sándor Pusztai

In the second half, the Gorillaz came out with a different tactic, using an old-school, physical running game which gave the Tigers’ defense a hard time. In addition, the offense started to struggle. The Tigers did not reach the mercy rule but gave opportunity to the youngsters. At the end of the game, the Gorillaz made the score look better and Dániel Hegedüs ran for a touchdown: 28-7.

Photo: Sándor Pusztai

The Tigers defense had an outstanding game forcing two turnovers and Greg Williams had 4 passes deflected. The performance of the offense had ups and downs but overall did a good job, especially, Gessel and Rice, who proved to be game changers for the Tigers. The Gorillaz travelled to the game with 25 men but showed heart and passion.

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