Three games were played during Week 12 on the PLFA I schedule, which saw the East Division playoff race come into much clearer focus. Over in the West, the Cougars got by the Owls to leave them winless and keep pace with the Tychy Falcons in the race for second, while the Kings and Wilki both got victories in the East to move their records to 3-3. Here is a quick recap of the three games played over the weekend.
Krakow Kings 28, Lublin Tytani 20 (in Lublin)
The Kings and the Tytani came into Sunday's clash in Lublin with identical 2-3 records, with each team needing a win to realistically stay in the hunt for the PLFA I East Division's second playoff spot. Krakow beat Lublin 28-20 in Krakow on April 26, and Sunday's result was no different as the Kings came away with a victory in Lublin by an exactly identical score.
Weather played a big part in the outcome, restricting both offenses mainly to the running game, just as it did in the game in Krakow back in April. Neither team was able to score in the first quarter, but they both got going in the second. Lublin led 14-7 at the break, on the strength of touchdowns by Bartłomiej Trubaj and Sebastian Żukowski.
The Tytani actually extended the lead to 20-7 in the third quarter on a second Trubaj touchdown run, but the Kings got the game's last 21 points to steal the victory. Jakub Spałek had touchdown runs of 5 and 8 yards to get the Kings in front, and Jacek Bukowiec ran an interception back for a touchdown to give Krakow some cushion at the end.
The Kings are now tied for second place with their next opponents, the Łódzkie Wilki. Those teams will meet on July 6 in Krakow in a game that may very well determine who advances to the postseason. The Wilki defeated the Kings by 4 points earlier in the season, giving the Kings a victory margin to shoot for to grab the tiebreaker advantage as well.
The Tytani, meanwhile, fell to 2-4 with the loss, a game behind the Kings and Wilki. They lead only the Płock Mustangs in the standings, meaning they may need to play in the 'barrage' at the end of the year to hold on to a place in PLFA I for next season. Lublin will play their last two games of the regular season on the road, beginning with a June 28 trip to Białystok to face the undefeated Lowlanders.
Łódzkie Wilki 38, Płock Mustangs 0 (in Łódź)
The Wilki completed a season sweep of the Mustangs in dominant fashion on Saturday, getting four touchdowns from Mikołaj Pawlaczyk in a 38-0 shutout in Łódź. Pawlaczyk moved into first place among PLFA I running backs with 9 touchdown runs on the season, almost single-handedly dropping Płock to their fifth consecutive defeat.
Łódzkie led 20-0 at the end of the first quarter, which included half of Pawlaczyk's quartet and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Damian Waszczyk to Wojciech Krawczyk. Borys Bednarek increased the lead to 26-0 at halftime with a 15-yard touchdown run.
The Mustangs had trouble on offense, with their import quarterback out with a knee injury and backup Tomasz Złoteńki also unavailable. Paweł Kosinski, normally a linebacker, took the snaps as the third-stringer and, all things considered, did an admirable job despite being unable to lead his team to a score.
With just one game remaining, against the Białystok Lowlanders on July 5 in Płock, the Mustangs are in serious jeopardy of being demoted to PLFA II. Only a win in that game can give them a chance of staying out of the East Division cellar and earning the right to play in the 'barrage' game to retain their place in Poland's second division for next season.
The Wilki also have a must-win situation in their next game, which comes on July 6. That day, they will travel to Krakow to face the Kings, in a game that pits the two teams currently tied for the second East playoff spot against each other. Łódzkie will then finish up the season against the Lublin Tytani on July 20.
Szczecin Cougars 14, Bielawa Owls 7 (in Bielawa)
After suffering defeats in their previous two contests, the Szczecin Cougars got a much-needed victory on Sunday in Bielawa, making heavy work of a 14-7 win over the Owls to move back into a tie for second place in the PLFA I West Division. The Owls dropped to 0-6 with the loss, moving a step closer to a last-place finish and automatic demotion to PLFA II for the 2015 season.
The first quarter passed with a score, and Bielawa suffered a setback in the second when their quarterback, Konrad Darmochwała, left the game with an injury. Szczecin got the first points on a touchdown reception by Jakub Piekarski, but Darmochwała's replacement, Krzysztof Pawlaczek, tied the game before halftime with a 10-yard touchdown run.
The Cougars went back ahead in the third quarter when Łukasz Lewandowski ran 25 yards for a touchdown. That would prove to be the deciding play of the contest, although Szczecin needed a late interception by Emil Trochanowicz to seal the deal.
Bielawa will have two more chances to get a win in 2014, both coming on the road. The Owls will play next against the 4-2 Tychy Falcons on June 28. The Cougars, who also have two games remaining, will be hoping to get some help from Bielawa in that one, as they would currently lose the tiebreaker against the Falcons if the two teams remain tied in the standings at the end of the year. The Cougars will be at home for their final two games, beginning with a matchup against the 1-4 Gliwice Lions on July 5.
WEEK 13 SCHEDULE (HOME TEAM FIRST):
Saturday, June 28, 1:30 PM: Tychy Falcons (4-2) vs. Bielawa Owls (0-6)
Sunday, June 29, 1:00 PM: Gliwice Lions (1-4) vs. Husaria Szczecin (5-0)
Saturday, June 28, 2:00 PM: Białystok Lowlanders (5-0) vs. Lublin Tytani (2-4)