Date: 29 Apr 2012
Home: Wroclaw Devils - 35
Away: Warsaw Eagles - 32
Devils hang on to beat Eagles 35-32 and forge 3-way tie atop Topliga
In Wroclaw, Niles Mittasch scored three times and the Devils were able to hold off a late rally by the previously undefeated Warsaw Eagles by succeeding on a dramatic late gamble to come away with a 35-32 victory on Sunday afternoon. The result left a three-way tie for the lead in the Topliga, with the Devils, Eagles and Seahawks all with 4-1 records at the regular season's halfway point. The Devils ran their winning streak over the Eagles to six consecutive games with the victory.
Many in the PLFA believe that this game was a preview of NAC SuperFinal VII in Warsaw later this year, and if that is the case then the championship will certainly be a game to look forward to. The Devils held the lead for nearly the entire game, ceding it briefly before halftime before grabbing it right back again. Both teams' playmakers were visible throughout, but it was Mittasch who stole the show and made himself the frontrunner for the MVP crown in a game that could be the turning point in the race for the number one seed.
Mittasch scored the first points of the game on a 15-yard touchdown run following a long drive that resulted from a fourth-down stand by the Devils defense. The Eagles fired back quickly, however, and Piotr Osuchowski brought them back to within a point with a 4-yard scoring burst. The conversion was no good and the Devils held the slimmest of leads after a quarter of play.
The teams traded touchdowns again in the second quarter before the Eagles intercepted a Krzysztof Wydrowski pass and turned it into a drive that ended in a Brett Peddicord field goal that put the visitors ahead 16-14. Wydrowski, the former PLFA MVP who sat out the previous two games for the Devils with a back injury, was effective but not dominating in his return. Mittasch, on the other hand, was indeed dominating, and he lit up the scoreboard once more before halftime with a 40-yard touchdown. The extra point was good, and Wroclaw led 21-16 at halftime.
The third quarter was quieter, with only the Devils finding the end zone to extend their lead to 28-19 before the final frame began. Wydrowski found Piotr Wis, who had been an effective third-down receiver all game, for a touchdown to start the fourth, and the Devils had their largest lead of the game at 35-19.
The Eagles comeback was swift, however, as Tyrone Landrum threw to a wide open Kevin Lynch on the next drive and the latter took it 65 yards for a score. The Eagles then picked off Wydrowski again and Osuchowski was in the end zone for a second time shortly thereafter, and suddenly the lead was down to three points.
Plenty of time still remained for the Eagles to finish the job, and they were able to force the Devils to turn the ball over on downs in their next drive. The Eagles quickly went three-and-out, however, and coach Phillip Dillon decided to punt. The Devils took control needing only a single first down to win, but after three plays they were still two yards short. Still in their own end of the field, the offense stayed on the field for the exciting climax. The handoff went to none other than Niles Mittasch, of course, who jumped over the line to gain to give Wroclaw the victory.
And so the Eagles dropped their first game of the year just before the May holiday break, during which they will be preparing for their other rival in the race for the top, the Gdynia Seahawks, who come to the capital on May 13. Warsaw will get another chance at the Devils on June 3, this time in Warsaw. The Devils, meanwhile, head into the break as the Topliga leaders thanks to a tiebreaker. They will face the AZS Silesia Rebels in Katowice on May 12.