Eight of the ten PLFA I teams were back in action over the past few days, in one of the busiest weekends on this season's schedule. In East Division action, the Wilki and the Kings played one of the PLFA's most exciting games ever, while the Lowlanders rolled on their way to the division lead. In the West, both Szczecin teams moved to 3-0 two weeks ahead of their derby matchup. Here is a short recap of each of the four games played over the weekend.
Łódź Wilki 37, Krakow Kings 33 (in Łódź)
The Łódź Wilki fell into a 27-8 first-half hole at home on Saturday afternoon and then stormed back to pull off what is thought to be the biggest comeback in PLFA history, beating the Krakow Kings 36-33 in East Division play. Łódź never led until Patryk Mleczek's go-ahead 18-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter.
Paweł Jankowski scored touchdowns on each of the first two Kings drives to give Krakow an early 13-0 lead. Remigiusz Szmiel scored just a minute after Jankowski's second touchdown, trotting 73 yards for the lone bright spot of the first half for the Wilki. In the second quarter, Jankowski followed a Sebastian Lech touchdown run with a 51-yard scoring pass to Jarosław Satkowski to give Krakow a 19-point cushion at halftime.
That advantage would dwindle quickly once the teams returned to the field. Mikołaj Pawlaczyk finished off a long drive with a short touchdown run to cut the lead to 27-16, and Damian Waszczyk then found Michał Sobierajewicz with a 34-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-24.
The Wilki momentum was slowed only momentarily by Jankowski's second touchdown pass, a 17-yarder to Marcin Masłoń early in the fourth quarter. It would gather steam once again on Łódź's next drive, which was punctuated by Pawlaczyk's second short touchdown run, and it would become a runaway train when Jankowski was picked off on Krakow's next drive. Mleczek gave the Wilki the decisive points just a few plays later.
The wild reversal swung the fortunes of both clubs, catapulting the Wilki into second place with a 2-1 record and leaving the Kings in fourth at 1-2. The Wilki will be on the road for their next two games, the first coming on May 17 at the Lublin Tytani. The Kings will play their next two at home, beginning with the unenviable task of hosting the division-leading Białystok Lowlanders on May 18. The Wilki will visit Krakow on July 6.
Szczecin Cougars 34, Gliwice Lions 3 (in Gliwice)
The Szczecin Cougars continued their surprising run through their first PLFA I schedule with a third consecutive victory, this one coming at the expense of the Gliwice Lions. The home team managed only a fourth-quarter field goal against the division leaders, who left Gliwice with a 34-3 victory on Sunday afternoon.
The Cougars, playing their first year in Poland's second division after being promoted from PLFA II last season, exploded for three touchdowns in the second quarter to cruise to the win. Andrzej Łukasik started the barrage with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Adrian Rogaczewski, and he then followed up with two touchdown runs of his own.
The second of those runs came just before halftime, as Szczecin executed the two-minute drill well. With all the momentum heading into the second half, the Cougars easily coasted to victory. Gliwice made it as far as the 5-yard line in the fourth quarter, but they had to settle for a field goal just to avoid being shut out.
Although the Cougars have looked better with each passing game, it could be argued that they have yet to be truly tested in what is looking like the weaker division of PLFA I. That will change on May 25, when the Cougars find out exactly where they stand as they face the defending champions, Husaria Szczecin. Both teams will go into that game at 3-0. The Lions, meanwhile, will travel to Bielawa that same day to face the Owls in a battle of winless teams.
Husaria Szczecin 22, Tychy Falcons 6 (in Tychy)
While their crosstown compatriots continue making noise in their PLFA I debut, Husaria have quietly rolled along to three more victories this season, the latest coming in a 22-6 road triumph over the Tychy Falcons on Sunday. Husaria have now gone more than 700 days without a defeat, last falling on June 24, 2012 to the Płock Mustangs.
The game did not begin well for Husaria. Although the visitors were able to move into the Tychy red zone with relative ease on their opening drive, a mistake on a screen pass left the ball lying on the field without an official's whistle. Kacper Kurcius alertly picked it up and ran 85 yards for a touchdown that gave the Falcons an early 6-0 lead.
They would not score again, and by the time the second quarter was over, Husaria had tied the game and then gone ahead. Jakub Dobrowolski got Husaria level with his fourth touchdown of the season, and Przemysław Adamus gave them the lead with a 14-yard touchdown reception 8 seconds before halftime. Though trailing only by one score, Tychy never seriously threatened to get back in the game in the second half against the stout Szczecin defense.
Husaria will meet their co-leaders in the PLFA I West Division, the Szczecin Cougars, at home on May 25. Both teams have yet to lose after the first three games of the schedule. The Falcons, who now sit in third place in the West with a record of 2-2, will get a long break before next hosting the winless Gliwice Lions on May 31.
Białystok Lowlanders 41, Płock Mustangs 2 (in Białystok)
Playing in their home opener in Białystok on Saturday afternoon, the Lowlanders defeated the Płock Mustangs for the seventh consecutive time, routing the visitors by a score of 41-2. The winning streak dates back to Płock's only victory in the all-time series, which came in September 2008.
Both teams were expected to start American first-string quarterbacks, but neither one actually played in the game. Robert Borcky, who was replaced by long-time Lowlanders starter Damian Kołpak, was injured in practice earlier in the week, while Spencer Wood was serving a mandatory one-game suspension for a flagrant foul in Płock's previous game. He was replaced by another import, Luka Skorić of Serbia.
The Lowlanders gave the Mustangs two points on a bad snap on the game's opening drive, but they would play virtually mistake-free football the rest of the way. Kołpak threw three touchdown passes, including a 50-yarder to Tomasz Zubrycki that made it 28-2 at halftime, and Michael Campana scored three times for the Lowlanders.
The Białystok defense has not given up a single point in two games to start the year, and the team overall has outscored its opponents 85-8 in those two games. The Lowlanders will look to continue that domination when they visit the Krakow Kings on May 18. The Kings will also be the next opponent for Płock, when they host the Mustangs on June 1.
PLFA I WEEK 7 SCHEDULE (HOME TEAM FIRST):
No games scheduled
Saturday, May 17, 1:00 PM: Lublin Tytani (0-2) vs. Łódź Wilki (2-1)
Sunday, May 18, 1:00 PM: Krakow Kings (1-2) vs Białystok Lowlanders (2-0)