The penultimate weekend on the PLFA II calendar yielded a pair of worthy combatants for the league's championship game, with the gritty Devils barely outlasting the Seahawks in Gdynia and the undefeated Królewscy winning the right to host the title game with another strong defensive effort against the Wilki. Here is a recap of each of those two semifinal clashes.
Wrocław Devils B 17, Gdynia Seahawks B 14 (in Gdynia)
The Wrocław Devils B team, who came into the PLFA II playoffs as the seventh-ranked team out of the eight seeds, are now one win away from a championship, after narrowly defeating the Seahawks B team 17-14 on Saturday night in Gdynia. The Devils will take on the undefeated Warszawa Królewscy in the title game on October 19.
The Seahawks offense, which scored 40 points in Gdynia's quarterfinal victory over the Sopot Sabercats, got off to a rough start in the first half against the fourth-ranked defense in PLFA II. Wrocław's attack fared only slightly better early on, doing enough to get a 30-yard Tomasz Soska field goal in the first quarter to give the Devils a 3-0 lead. They extended that lead to 9-0 before halftime, when Krzysztof Wydrowski hit that same Soska with a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Gdynia quarterback Aleksander Kordyś, who had played well in the run-up to the postseason as well as in the quarterfinals, finally got the offense moving after a Wrocław turnover in the third quarter, leading a ground-based drive that ended in a dramatic one-yard touchdown by Kordyś himself. Officials deliberated over the call for a few seconds before determining that Kordyś had just gotten the ball over the plane of the goal line to make it 9-6.
The Devils answered quickly, responding with a short touchdown run by Ernest Rogowicz, who had a strong evening running with the football. His 3-yard score made it 15-6 for Wrocław heading into the final quarter of play. The Seahawks were not done yet, however, and Gdynia pulled to within a point on a 30-yard touchdown reception by Dawid Kryszyłowicz and a two-point conversion by Mikołaj Meller.
The teams traded possessions after that, before the Seahawks were given one last opportunity following a defensive stand. Marcin Pryjma's 75-yard punt rolled all the way to the 1-yard line, however, and Gdynia was tasked with going the length of the field to claim victory. The Devils snuffed out any potential rally on the first play, however, when Konrad Baj tackled Kordyś in the end zone for a safety.
Although the Devils now need just one victory to hoist the PLFA II championship trophy, both they and the Seahawks, who finished with a 6-2 overall record (including playoffs), are ineligible to advance to PLFA I next season due to the presence of their respective senior teams in the Topliga.
Warszawa Królewscy 21, Pabianice Wilki 3 (in Warsaw)
In the other semifinal, played on Saturday afternoon in Warsaw, the Królewscy overcame a 3-2 halftime deficit with a strong second half on both sides of the ball to come away with a relatively easy 21-3 victory over their division rivals, the Pabianice Wilki. It was the sixth time in eight games this season that Warszawa held their opponent without a touchdown.
The Wilki, whose only loss in the regular season was a 19-0 defeat at the hands of the Królewscy, kept the Królewscy offense from scoring in the first half, although they fell behind 2-0 in the first quarter after a safety on a bad snap on a punt attempt deep in their own territory. Pabianice took the lead on a short field by Roland Rzepecki in the second quarter, and it looked like Warszawa, who needed overtime to get through the quarterfinals, would have another tense fight on their hands.
The second half turned out to be a different story, however, as the Królewscy would put up 19 unanswered points on their way to victory. Bartosz Żebrowski put them ahead with an 18-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Warszawa drew away in the fourth with a Mateusz Poneta touchdown reception and a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown by Michael Thompson that iced the game.
Even considering the two defeats to the Królewscy, the Wilki had a very successful debut in the 2013 season. Finishing with an overall record of 6-2, they will join Warszawa in being promoted to PLFA I next season. The Królewscy, meanwhile, hope to go into play in that league with the title of PLFA II champions, a right they would earn with a victory at home over the Wrocław Devils B team in the PLFA II championship game on October 19.
PLFA II CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE (SUBJECT TO CHANGE--HOME TEAM FIRST):
Saturday, October 19, Time TBA: Warszawa Królewscy (8-0) vs. Wrocław Devils B (6-2)