Silesia Rebels Katowice edge Warsaw Mets with last second TD to secure Polish Football League semifinal berth

With a last second lob into the back of the endzone to beat the Warsaw Mets 26-21, the Silesia Rebels Katowice have now solidified their spot in the Polish Football League semi-finals next weekend.

It really did come down to the wire.

With 12 seconds to go in Sunday’s Polish Football League Wild Card game, and facing a fourth and 10 from the Warsaw 37 yard line, Rebels quarterback Jon Mullin dropped back, scrambled away from pressure and heaved the ball to the corner of the endzone. Wide receiver Ihor Lysenko, who had already made a clutch reception on the drive, came down with the ball for the touchdown to give his team a 26-21 lead with just a couple of ticks left on the clock, sending Rebels players flooding onto the field in jubilation.

The Rebels had watched as Warsaw had clawed their way back into the game, recovering from a two touchdown deficit at halftime to take a 21-20 lead with less than a minute to go. They left too much time on the clock.

It gave Mullin the time to march his team into Mets territory and make the winning pass.

In fact, that was more or less how the game started.

Still, it was former Texas Longhorn quarterback David Ash, and the Warsaw offense, who took the field first. Their game plan had differed from Ash’s first appearance with the Mets a couple of months ago, where he would make all the throws expected of a former division one and NFL quarterback. Now however, he was working his way down the field hitting only short to intermediate routes followed by an up the gut rushing attack to keep the defense honest. The Mets stuck to this and it would prove successful as they were able to make their way up and down the field throughout the game.

Rebels WR Ihor Lysenko #89 making a clutch reception Photo: Piotr Piekut/Interception

Although the opening drive did not produce a touchdown, the pattern was clear.

The Rebel offense on the other hand, relied on Mullin who would use his legs to escape the pocket and read what was in front of him making a wide array of throws all over the field. This would prove successful in their first drive and see the game’s first score as Mullin connected with wideout Hadrien Lynda on a three yard pass for a touchdowns capping an 85 yard drive. A failed two-point conversion kept the score at 6 – 0.

Warsaw’s new offense had proved effective but ultimately unsuccessful as on three consecutive drives they were able to get into the redzone but failed to come away with any points. Being unable to finish would be a motif that would be symbolic of their heartbreaking wildcard loss.

The Rebels on the other hand, had no such trouble as in the second drive they scored their second touchdown with an 75-yard bomb from Mullin to the sure-handed Lysenko who made the grab in traffic and then discarded two defenders on his way to the endzone. Mullin ran the ball in himself this time on the two-point conversion to make it 14 – 0 with six minutes left to go in the second quarter.

On the ensuing drive, the Mets had more luck as Ash was able to spread the ball around hitting nearly all his receivers on timing routes. A pass interference call on the Rebels got the Mets to the three and RB Witold Szpotanski (#25) ran the ball in off a toss. A successful two-point conversion closed the gap to six, 14 – 8.

Rebel wideout Lynda then took things into his own hands just before the half came to an end by making a number of acrobatic catches down the field including a 45-yard deep route that he snagged inches from the ground. He finished the drive off with a slant to the back of the endzone to again extend the Rebel’s lead to two scores.

Mets QB David Ash #4 Photo: Piotr Piekut/Interception

Up 20 – 8, Silesia received the ball in the second half but would be unable to do anything with it as the Mets implemented a bend-but-don’t-break style of defense, keeping everything in front of them. Warsaw, on the other hand, went on a scoring frenzy. On their first offensive drive they stuck to the game plan, allowing their receivers to get some work after the catch. Ash hit Jan Omelanczuk in stride on a seam route and the crafty receiver wove his way through the Rebel secondary for the score to 20 – 14.

After a few negligible drives from both sides, with 3:46 on the clock, the Mets and Ash were on the move again with the same efficiency that had allowed them to move up and down the field all day. This time however, Ash marched his team from his own 26 yard line down to the Rebels three in nine plays completing five of seven passes. Szpotanski then capped the drive, running the ball in from inside the three to take the Mets up by one point after a clutch extra-point from kicker Dominik Szymanski.

With 40 seconds to go the game was all but over, a solid return from Devion Young gave the Rebels a glimmer of hope and set up the game-ending dramatics.

Starting his own 36-yard line with exactly 37 seconds left, Mullin surveyed the field and threw an arching 25 yard spiral to Lysenko who ran out of bounds with three Mets straddling his back. The Mets would pressure Mullins the next play who threw off his back foot and hit the Warsaw linebacker straight in the hands, but he dropped it. The next two passes sailed out of bounds, missing the mark before the Rebels called a timeout. After a regroup again there was confusion on the field as Mullin screamed at the sideline in frustration who had to burn yet another timeout. And then on the next play, a 4th and 10, Mullin rolled out to the left after feeling the pressure and launched the ball towards the front pilon. Lysenko put his foot in the ground, stopped, letting the defender run past him, and simply scooped the ball into his arms to put the Rebels back into the lead with only three seconds to go propelling them into the semi-finals.

Although the loss will be heartbreaking for the Mets both teams should feel happy about their performance. Each side left it all on the field and gave a rowdy Warsaw stadium potentially one of the playoff games it has ever seen.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.