Saturday's SuperFinal rematch in Wrocław between the Seahawks and Panthers was marred by heavy rain and nearly 40 penalties, facts that are unlikely to diminish the satisfaction Seahawks players will take in a hard-fought 13-10 triumph. The Seahawks, Poland's defending champions and already the owners of the Topliga's only spotless record, won the game on a field goal by Przemysław Portalski as time expired.
The Panthers actually held the lead for most of the game. They went up 7-0 in the first quarter on a short Rickey Stevens touchdown run, and Wrocław maintained that same advantage until a Portalski field goal made it 7-3 in the third quarter. Dawid Pańczyszyn then replied with a short field goal of his own to make it 10-3 heading into the final frame.
The turning point came in the fourth quarter when the Panthers, playing all game without injured quarterback EJ White, gave the ball up deep in their own end when Mateusz Ruta inexplicably knelt to the ground after taking the snap on a punt. Joshua Quezada cashed in with a 13-yard touchdown run to tie the game, and Gdynia got the ball back quickly after a Stevens fumble.
The mistakes continued for Wrocław throughout the Seahawks' final drive. With the game clock expiring and Gdynia needing 45 yards for the winning score, a defensive pass interference call gave the Seahawks 15 yards and an untimed down. To make matters worse, Bartosz Światek was then given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that brought ball even nearer to the goal line, and Portalski was true on the winning kick.
If there's any consolation for the Panthers, it's that the past two seasons have seen them beat the Seahawks handily in the regular season, only to lose to Gdynia each time in the season's ultimate game. Although the season has only just begun, it's a good bet that the two teams will meet for Poland's championship for a third consecutive season on July 16.
Seahawks (2-0): vs. Husaria Szczecin (1-1), April 24
Panthers (1-1): at Warsaw Sharks (1-1), April 17
TOPLIGA WEEK 2 SCHEDULE:
Saturday, April 16, 12:00 PM: Warsaw Eagles (0-1) vs. Husaria Szczecin (1-1)
Saturday, April 16, 1:00 PM: Kozły Poznań (0-1) vs. Primacol Białystok Lowlanders (1-1)
Sunday, April 17, 3:00 PM: Warsaw Sharks (1-1) vs. Wrocław Panthers (1-1)