Poland’s offbeat approach to playoff qualification this year has made late-season games that much more important. The top three teams are now vying for playoff positioning while the remaining four teams are battling for the final playoff spot.
Husaria Szczecin 54, Warsaw Sharks 32 (in Szczecin)
Husaria Szczecin locked up a spot in the final wild card playoff game on Saturday, eliminating the Warsaw Sharks from championship contention with a 54-32 home victory. The teams combined for more points in the second quarter than they had combined for in their previous meeting, with Dylan Rauch throwing for six touchdown passes for the victors. Husaria will face the Warsaw Eagles on June 18 for the right to play in the Topliga playoffs.
The Sharks drew first blood on a 23-yard touchdown run by Giorgio Bryant, but Husaria scored the next 13 points to take their first lead. Jan Omelańczuk’s second touchdown reception of the second quarter tied the game at 20, before Rauch found Michał Szczurowski for a 24-yard touchdown pass that gave Husaria a 27-20 halftime lead.
The Sharks couldn’t go with Husaria in the third quarter, as Szczecin drew out to a 42-20 lead with touchdown catches by Mateusz Dubicki and Mario Brown. Bryant threw a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to give him four for the game and to give Warsaw some late hope, but Brown threw a touchdown pass to James Williams on a bizarre blocked field goal play that ended the Sharks rally. Husaria has now won all four meetings between the two clubs.
Husaria (3-4): at Warsaw Eagles (4-3), June 18 (Winner advances to Topliga playoffs)
Sharks (1-6): vs. Kozły Poznań (0-7), June 19 (Loser plays “barrage” against PLFA I opponent)
Warsaw Eagles 36, Kozły Poznań 7 (in Warsaw)
The Warsaw Eagles clinched a spot in the wild card playoff final and rested their key starters at the same time on Saturday, easing past the winless Kozły Poznań 36-7 in the capital. Karol Żak picked up the slack with three touchdown passes in place of quarterback Gregory Watson, who sat out the game along with running back Andre Whyte and defensive back Charles McCrea. Warsaw will now host Husaria Szczecin on June 18, with the winner advancing to the Topliga playoffs.
Witold Szpotański got the Eagles off to a quick start with a 1-yard touchdown plunge on Warsaw’s opening offensive possession. The Eagles got the ball right back when Kozły failed to recover the ensuing kickoff, and Szpotański cashed in again for Warsaw, this time from 20 yards out. Żak then hit Tomasz Ochnio with a 25-yard strike that put Poznań into a 21-0 hole after just a quarter.
Kozły, who will next play the Warsaw Sharks in a game that guarantees the victor a Topliga spot for the 2017 season, got their only points on a Patryk Barczak touchdown run in the second quarter. Żak threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Jakub Kłoskowski before halftime and a 10-yarder to Ignacy Studziński in the third quarter to complete his hat trick. Antoni Omondi blocked a punt for a safety in the fourth quarter to complete the scoring in Warsaw’s 15th consecutive victory over Poznań.
Eagles (4-3): vs. Husaria Szczecin (3-4), June 18 (Winner advances to Topliga playoffs)
Kozły (0-7): at Warsaw Sharks (1-6), June 19 (Loser plays “barrage” against PLFA I opponent)
Gdynia Seahawks 21, Białystok Lowlanders 20 (in Białystok)
The Białystok Lowlanders once again came oh-so-close to beating the Gdynia Seahawks for the first time ever on Sunday, but the defending champs scored late to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit and remain undefeated with a 21-20 triumph in Białystok. Brandon Stanley’s second touchdown of the game put the Seahawks over the top and gave them the win in the first game of the three-team round robin tournament that will determine the final Topliga playoff seedings.
Each team got a touchdown in each of the first two quarters. Gdynia went ahead on a 7-yard Paweł Fabich touchdown catch on the game’s opening drive, but the Lowlanders quickly tied the game on the first of two Jabari Harris to Ronald Long hookups. Stanley scored in the second quarter to put the Seahawks back ahead, and Long scored again just before halftime to make it 14-14.
Białystok had a chance to take the lead on the opening possession of the third quarter, but the Lowlanders were stopped on fourth down at the Gdynia 5-yard line. The Seahawks missed their own opportunity to take the lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter, when a bad snap led to a blocked field goal attempt. Harris took it 75 yards on the first play after that mishap, but the Lowlanders were unable to convert the extra point. The Seahawks made their chance after Stanley’s second score, and that turned out to be the difference in the ballgame.