Regular Season In Poland Coming To A Close With A Twist

With one regular season game remaining in Poland, the Polish Topliga has added a novel approach. The three top teams in the league will face each other in a round robin tournament which will determine the seedings for the playoffs. Those three teams – the Wroclaw Panthers, Primacol Białystok Lowlanders and Gdynia Seahawks will decide the top three spots.

The numbers 4 through 7 finishers play a knockout tournament with the first-round winners playing for the 4th semifinal berth and the losers playing to avoid relegation in 2017. Unfortunately for the Warsaw Eagles, their narrow loss to the Seahawks bumped them into the wild card round.

Primacol Białystok Lowlanders 53 – Warsaw Sharks 7 (in Białystok)

Poland - Lowlanders-Sharks 2016 action.6 - Marcin Fijałkowski

Photo: Marcin Fijałkowski

The Primacol Białystok Lowlanders jumped out to a giant first-half lead in front of a boisterous home crowd on Friday evening, trouncing the Warsaw Sharks 53-7. Jabari Harris was dominant again for the Lowlanders, taking a hand in six touchdowns, while his teammate Tomasz Zubrycki scored on both sides of the football. A 40-0 Białystok lead at halftime meant that the entire second half was played under ‘running clock’ rules.

Harris started the action with a 21-yard touchdown run on Białystok’s opening offensive possession, and Ronald Long, Damian Kołpak and Eryk Mąkowski added touchdowns before the whistle blew to end the first quarter. Bartłomiej Trubaj then became the third Lowlander with a touchdown reception in the second quarter, and Zubrycki intercepted a pass at midfield and took it to the house to complete the scoring in the first half.

Zubrycki scored on a 70-yard reception in the third quarter, continuing a Lowlanders scoring run that finally ended with a short Orlando Webb touchdown reception. That play gave the Sharks their only points of the game, which Harris iced with another scoring toss to Long in the fourth quarter. Białystok has one regular season game remaining, against the Wrocław Panthers, although both teams are already assured of reaching the three-team, ‘second season’ round robin that will determine the final top playoff seeds.

Lowlanders (4-1): at Wrocław Panthers (4-1), May 28
Sharks (1-5): at Husaria Szczecin (2-4), June 4 (layoffs)Topliga wild card playoff

Wrocław Panthers 56 – Kozły Poznań 0 (in Wrocław)

Poland - Panthers-Kozly 2016 action.2

An undermanned Kozły Poznań squad traveled to Wrocław on Saturday and got demolished, running up against a determined Panthers team that recorded a 56-0 victory that may not even have been as close as the final score indicates. The win for the Panthers leaves them tied with the Primacol Białystok Lowlanders for second place in the Topliga, a tie that will be broken when the two teams meet next weekend in the Topliga’s final regular season game.

The Panthers scored three touchdowns in each of the first two quarters, with five different players getting into the act. Tomasz Dziedzic caught two of Steven White’s three touchdown passes, while Patryk Matkowski pulled in the other. White and Rickey Stevens each ran for touchdowns in the opening frame, and Deante Battle ran a punt back for a score in the second quarter.

Things didn’t really get any better for Kozły in the second half, although at least that part of the game was played with a ‘running clock’. Kozły, who finished the regular season without a victory, were only able to get a single first down in the game and completed only two passes. Stevens and Stefan Bocheński had second-half touchdown runs for the Panthers.

Panthers (4-1): vs. Primacol Białystok Lowlanders (4-1), May 28
Kozły (0-6): at Warsaw Eagles (3-3), June 4 (Topliga wild card playoffs)

Gdynia Seahawks 31 – Warsaw Eagles 27 (in Gdynia)

Poland - Seahawks-Eagles 2016 - Jacek Stańczak.2

Photo: Jacek Stańczak

In a series that has seen more than its share of dramatic finishes, Poland’s two oldest teams again met on Sunday in a game that went down to the final seconds. This time around, the Gdynia Seahawks capped an undefeated season when Przemysław Portalski scored with just seven seconds remaining in the ballgame to put the Seahawks ahead of the visiting Warsaw Eagles 31-27. Gdynia would hold on to win for the fourth straight time over the Eagles and even the all-time series at 9-9.

Joshua Quezada scored twice to give the Seahawks an early 14-0 advantage, although he would later leave the game with an undisclosed injury. The Eagles narrowed the gap to 14-6 before halftime on a 35-yard touchdown run by Greg Watson. Gdynia then lost another key player late in the third quarter when Michał Garbowski was disqualified for an unsportsmanlike conduct foul.

After a Gdynia field goal, Charles McCrea’s 35-yard touchdown run got the Eagles to within 17-14 at the end of the third quarter. A Jakub Fabich touchdown reception made it 24-14 before Warsaw stormed backed to take their first lead of the game courtesy of an 89-yard touchdown catch by McCrea and a 63-yarder by Cody Smith. Those scores gave Karol Żak three touchdown passes on the afternoon, but Terrance Owens would do him one better with his fourth, the game-winner to Portalski.

Seahawks (6-0): Topliga ‘second round’, June 5, opponent to be determined
Eagles (3-3): vs. Kozły Poznań (0-6), June 4 (Topliga wild card playoffs)

Saturday, May 28, Time TBA: Wrocław Panthers (4-1) vs. Primacol Białystok Lowlanders (4-1)