Silesia Rebels Katowice hang on against Warsaw Mets in David Ash’s Polish debut

The Silesia Rebels Katowice managed what most of the Big 12 failed to do when David Ash was under center for the Texas Longhorns, eking out a 22-20 victory over the Warsaw Mets in a game that came down to the wire.

The message from the former star Longhorns passer’s Mets debut was clear. Everything may be bigger in Texas, but winning in Poland is going to be an entirely different animal.

While Ash was on-time and on-target for Warsaw, the offense struggled to at times keep in sync with his Division I timing and several well-thrown balls thudded harmlessly off receiver’s hands. He finished a disappointing 13 of 30 passing for 187 yards, one touchdown and one interception, while scrambling for 62 yards on eight carries in the face of Silesia’s pass rush.

By contrast, the Rebels, led by quarterback Jon Mullin, were quick to establish control of the football game. A methodical opening drive ended with a five-yard touchdown strike to Ihor Lysenko and Pawel Wojciechowski hauled in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.

After Ash was unable to connect with Jan Omelanczuk on fourth and one to keep his debut drive alive, the Rebels would keep up the pressure. Mullin showed off his rushing ability to gain crucial yardage and Bartek Slomka busted loose for a 15-yard score, making it a 14-point game after the failed two point attempt.

Silesia Rebels RB Bartek Slomka #25 fighting for yardage Photo: Warsaw Mets

It wasn’t until the final minute of the half that the Mets were able to threaten. A poor quick kick from Mullin gave Warsaw excellent field position and Ash delivered a 19-yard strike to Krzysztof Andrukonis to set his team up at the goal line. After two hurried incompletions and a drop, Witold Szpotanski powered in on fourth down to get the Mets on the board.

A 36-yard bomb from Ash to Zedrzej Kubica on the first drive of the third quarter resulted in no points after a errant snag on the ensuing field goal attempt, but the Mets defense stepped up later in the frame. An Ash punt dribbled to the Silesia one-yard line and as Mullin attempted to pass out of his own endzone, the ball was knocked loose by running back Bartek Slomka while stepping up to pass protect. Perhaps believing his arm was moving forward or confused as to which line represented the back of the endzone, Mullin made no attempt to fall on the ball and Filip Snopek jumped on top to tie the game for Warsaw.

Mid-way through the fourth, the Rebels retook the lead after Adam Maniara picked off Ash on a telegraphed fade route. A 20-yard strike to Ihor Lysenko got the ball rolling, then Slomka made one cut up field on a well executed zone run, made the safety miss and cruised for a 30-yard score. Hadrien Lynda caught the two-point conversion and it was an eight-point ball game once again.

A poor kickoff gave the Mets the ball at mid-field and Ash quickly got his team down to the goal line courtesy of  his legs and a pass interference penalty. Warsaw struggled to punch it in and on fourth down, Marcel Kramarczyk tracked the quarterback down for a loss and forced the turnover.

With the Mets on the ropes, Mullin failed to deliver a knock-out blow and his final punt was blocked by Filip Snopek with under a minute left. This time Ash delivered with an eight-yard touchdown toss to Andrukonis with Maniara all over him.

Warsaw Mets QB David Ash #4 looking downfield Photo: Warsaw Mets

Needing the two-point conversion to stay alive, the Mets handed the ball to Witold Szpotanski, but Sylwek Rosik played the unlikely hero. Spinning off a block from Dominik Zielewski, he brought the runner down for a game-deciding loss. The Mets onside kick attempt went out of bounds and the Rebels survived with a 22-20 victory.

With eyeballs across Europe glued on Ash, Texas caliber throws were too often met with drops. Jan Omelanczuk led all receivers with four catches for 72 yards, while Zedrzej Kubica was close behind with four catches for 63. Linebacker Zachary Blair was a noticeable presence on defense throughout the game.

Rebels running back Bartek Slomka was the real star, leading his team with 12 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Jon Mullin scrambled 12 times for 62 yards of his own and completed 14 of 26 passes for 123 yards and one touchdown. Ihor Lysenko hauled in seven receptions for 56 yards and a score, while Pawel Wojciechowski added five for 48.

After falling to the Krakow Kings in their opener, Silesia enters their bye week sitting at 1-1 on the season. Ash and the Mets will get a chance to redeem themselves next week against the Bialystok Lowlanders.

Now that his first taste of European action is out of the way, timing and chemistry will have to be built as the star pivot adjusts to the Polish game. Should Ash bring more of his Texas swagger to the organization, the Mets could be a very different team by season’s end.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.