Date: 02 Jun 2012
Home: Silesia Rebels - 19
Away: Poznan Kozly - 14
Late heroics put Silesia into tie for 4th after 19-14 triumph over Kozly
Kozly Poznan missed out on a chance to all-but-seal the final playoff spot on Saturday afternoon in Katowice, succumbing to a late comeback by the AZS Silesia Rebels, who scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter to win by a score of 19-14. Compounding their misfortune in opening the door for the Rebels to sneak into the playoffs, Kozly also lost quarterback Mark Philmore for the rest of the season to a torn knee ligament.
The two teams are now tied for the final playoff spot, with Kozly currently holding a slight tiebreaker edge that will likely turn out to be irrelevant. Both of Kozly's remaining games come against teams at the top of the standings, while the Rebels have a game next week against the 1-7 Dom-Bud Krakow Tigers. A win for the Rebels combined with a Kozly loss would put them into fourth place alone, while a Tigers win could potentially put all three teams into a tie. The Rebels would need to lose by at least 21 points to give up their advantage in the tiebreaker, while the Tigers would need to win by at least 54 to leapfrog Kozly.
Saturday's game was close throughout, with each of the first three quarters ending with the score knotted. Neither team scored until the second quarter, when Philmore hit Michal Konrady with a short touchdown pass to give Poznan an early lead. The Rebels tied the game at sevens on a 1-yard touchdown run by Jan Musil, and the score remained unchanged from there until the final quarter.
Musil and Arkadiusz Kanicki both ran well all day for Silesia, but it was Philmore who helped Kozly grab the lead midway through the fourth quarter. His 6-yard touchdown pass to Bartosz Trawinski was followed a Szymon Barczak PAT that gave the visitors a 14-7 lead. The Rebels came right back down the field, however, on a drive that was aided by two pass interference calls drawn by Radek Warchol. Kanicki put the finishing touches on it with a 3-yard plunge and the Rebels decided to go for the lead with a two-point conversion but failed.
Three minutes remained for Kozly to run out, but they were unable to do so and were forced to give the ball back to Silesia. After a touchback on the punt, the Rebels stood 80 yards from victory. They began chewing up that distance quickly, mainly through Zbigniew Szrejber receptions. With 30 seconds remaining, Michal Kolek hit him for the fifth time on the drive and Szrejber took the ball into the end zone for an improbable victory for the Rebels.
If there was anything sour about the finish for Silesia, it was their failure to score on either of the two conversion attempts in the fourth quarter. Interestingly, a success on the final one would have made the score exactly the same as the one Kozly won by in April. With points difference in games played between tied teams as the second tiebreaker, the failed conversion could potentially come back to haunt the Rebels at the end of the season.
For the moment, however, they will be celebrating a huge victory in the playoff race. They won't have long to celebrate, as the ninth week of the Topliga season will send them to Krakow to face the Tigers on June 10. Kozly have a much more daunting challenge on the same day, hosting the 6-2 Warsaw Eagles. Warsaw defeated Poznan 27-0 in the season opener for both teams.