Wroclaw Panthers rely on a bevy of players in dominant semifinal win

In a game that was basically over within a quarter and a half, the Wroclaw Panthers rolled over the outmatched and undermanned Bydgoszcz Archers 56-0 in the Polish semifinals to march into their seventh straight Polish championship final game.

For the seventh consecutive game, and with the score at halftime 35-0, star running back Ryan Tuiasoa watched pretty much the entire second half of the game from the sideline, handing over his duties to teammates Damian Kwiatkowski and Konrad Starczewski. Tuiasoa scored only one touchdown in this game with Kwiatkowski contributing two, one on a four yard run following his own 36 yard romp and the other on a 33 yard scamper. Although Starczewski did not score, the bruising fullback left a lot of Archers defenders is his wake.

Wroclaw Panthers RB Damian Kwiatkowski Photo: Łukasz Skwiot

Playing basically a half a season while watching the other half – he did get in for one drive in the second half of the win over Germany’s Dresden Monarchs – could be frustrating for one of the best running backs in Europe, but Hawaiian native Tuiasoa is not bothered by it:

“As a competitor of course I want to be the best individually, but it’s much more important and rewarding to win as a team; that will always be my main focus over stats. I’m fortunate to play around so much talent here that helps us to have most of our games in hand by halftime. Its a win in my perspective that Konrad and Damian also get well-earned playing time at RB and are able show everyone their talent.”

Wide receiver Jakub Wasiel hauled in the opening touchdown pass from quarterback Bartosz Dziedzic while Jakub Mazan scored the second, on a 23 yard toss from Dziedzic. Kwiatkowski added #3 in the second quarter with Tuiasoa gathering in a short pass from Dziedzic and weaving his way to the end zone, leaping from the two yard line to score touchdown number four, still in the first half.

Wroclaw RB Konrad Starczewski Photo: Łukasz Skwiot

Mazan increased the lead to 35-0 on a 55 yard punt return, nimbly picking his way through the congestion and racing the final 20 yards untouched into the end zone.

Dziedzic called his own number early in the third period, getting outside and outrunning everyone 34 yards for a touchdown. Kwiatkowski added his second on a 33 yard run, again demonstrating an uncanny ability to “feel” his blocks, weaving his way through traffic and bolting the final 15 yards to up the score to 49-0.

Wroclaw WR Jakub Mazan Photo: Łukasz Skwiot

The final touchdown, in the fourth quarter, was remarkable in the fact that wide receiver Michal Goszcynski was so completely wide open, 20 yards behind the deepest defender, that he was probably more worried about dropping the perfectly thrown 61 yard touchdown pass from Dziedzic than anything else.

Although the outcome may have been in most observers eyes a foregone conclusion, the Archers never stopped battling. There was no hint of surrender throughout the game and they kept pressing until the end, reaching into Panthers territory and even threatening from the 25 yard line. For a team that moved up from Poland’s second division despite losing one of the top running backs in the league, Meril Zero, two games ago to injury, they acquitted themselves well.

Still, for Tuiasoa, all focus is on winning the Polish title game:

“Winning a championship is the best feeling you can get in this game, everyone is focused for the opportunity we have next week. This would be my second title in Europe and it would be really special to get it done after this strange year for the Panthers family.”

AFI
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