Hungary: Miskolc Steelers, Budapest Cowbells headed to championship rematch

A lot of people expected two very exciting semi-final games in the Hungarian Football League playoffs. The reigning champion Miskolc Steelers had a thrilling match against the Wolves in Felsőzsolca, while the Eger Heroes-Budapest Cowbells matchup did not live up to the expectations.

Miskolc Steelers (1st seed) 27 – Budapest Wolves (4th seed) 25

Photo: Péter Bratincsák

This seemed to be the best match-up out of the two semis. Eaton Demetrius Lamar returned from his hand injury but he had to play with a cast. Wide receiver Ádám Elek was absent from the six-time champion and a lot of youngsters got the chance to prove their skills. The Steelers took the lead on a touchdown reception by Yuriy Nahornyak. Péter Varga and Máté Flaskay made several key catches for the Wolves, but running back Péter Lenner posed the greatest threat to the Steelers’ defense. He proved it by scoring the first Wolves TD. They could not equalize because the extra point was blocked. Nevertheless, the Steelers had the advantage in the half due to Troy Rice’s catch: 14-6.

The second half was all about the two quarterbacks. It was hard to pick up a moment when Márk Bencsics or Vasyl Yordan could not make an accurate pass. Nevertheless, Bencsics ran for the next Wolves TD. The visitors were able to turn things around after a lucky play. Bencsics  fumbled the ball on a one yard plunge and center Dávid Gombos got the loose ball in the end zone. In the last quarter, the Steelers took the lead back with a Rice reception and a sensational Yordan run. It seemed nothing could go wrong. Then came Bencsics and Troy Rice in a helmet-to-helmet collision. Rice was ejected for what the referees called targeting. Back-up quarterback Bence Gombos came in and with one good pass to Máté Gecser the Wolves had only a 2 point deficit. Nevertheless, due to an unfortunate play call Bencsics ran into Martin Szabó and could not make two point conversion. Thus, the Steelers made it to the final with a 27-25 victory but they lost Troy Rice.

Budapest Cowbells (3rd seed) 49 – Eger Heroes (2nd seed)  6

The Eger Heroes had many concerns after their import players left the team over an internal dispute, while the Cowbells entered the playoffs hot with two confidence booster victories. The visitors had a great start with Péter Cseperkáló’s 65 yard TD-run. Then Tamás Váry’s quarterback sneak gave a two possession lead for the Cowbells. Quarterback Máté Farkas had some good passes during the game. István Antal even caught one of them in the end zone. Nevertheless, that was the only touchdown for the Heroes the entire game. The Cowbells took control in the first half. With Richárd Roják’s run and Bence Takács’ reception the visitors led 28-6.

Although Eger’s defense performed better than expected (Norbert Petrény had 2 interceptions and blocked 2 passes), the offense could not turn things around like last time. The Cowbells continued the “rampage:” Cseperkalo’s next touchdown settled everything, but Márton Németh also had two interception return TDs in the third quarter which made the victory a confident one. In addition, with perfect performance from kicker Zoltán Szentirmai, the Cowbells won 49-6 and made it to the final.

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