Date: 09 Jun 2012
Home: Gdynia Seahawks - 43
Away: Wroclaw Devils - 28
Gdynia beats Wroclaw 43-28 for seventh straight victory
A playoff atmosphere permeated the National Rugby Stadium on Saturday evening, as the Gdynia Seahawks locked up the right to play at home in the semifinals with a 43-28 victory over the Wroclaw Devils. Kyle McMahon threw for four touchdowns in the back-and-forth contest, including two in a decisive fourth quarter rally. The Devils are now locked into the number three seed for the playoffs, while the Seahawks need only a victory against Kozly Ponzan in the Topliga regular season's final weekend to secure the number one postseason seed.
The Devils, who had been slumping of late, were rejuvenated by the arrival of American quarterback Vinnie Maroth. He led the Devils quickly down the field on their opening drive, which ended with a 17-yard touchdown run by Niles Mittasch. McMahon's 27-yard touchdown pass to Damian Bijan tied the game, and the shootout was on. Dueling MVP candidates Mittasch and Josh Le Duc both had touchdown receptions before the first quarter was done with a score of 14-13 in favor of Gdynia.
Things quieted down a bit in the second quarter, although former MVP Sebastian Krzysztofek was just getting going for the Seahawks. His strong running made the difference in this game, but it was his receiving skills that allowed Gdynia to extend their lead to 21-13 before halftime. Krzysztofek hauled in a pass from McMahon and took it 39-yards for a touchdown, and it looked like the Seahawks were finally in control.
The game changed dramatically in the third quarter, as the Devils defense stiffened and Maroth heated up. Wroclaw's new quarterback was helped by receivers who seemed to be catching everything thrown in their direction. Kim Thompson and Grzegorz Mazur were the recipients of Maroth's two third-quarter touchdown passes, and with only twelve minutes left to play Wroclaw held a 28-21 lead.
One final twist was yet to come in the fourth quarter, when the Seahawks would score twice in a span of 56 seconds. Le Duc took a snap in the shotgun and scrambled to his right before coming all the way back across the field to throw a pass to McMahon, who was standing in the end zone. Gdynia opted to go for the lead after a penalty moved the ball halfway to the goal, and McMahon took it in himself to put the Seahawks up by a point. Gdynia then recovered a bouncing kickoff after a scramble near the Wroclaw sideline, and Krzysztofek bounced to his right and took the ball 25 yards to the end zone for his second touchdown. The Devils had no answer after that.
So, with just a game remaining in the regular season, it looks more and more likely that the Devils will face the Warsaw Eagles in the semifinals for the third consecutive year. The result of Wroclaw's final game, at home against the Dom-Bud Krakow Tigers on June 17, is largely irrelevant in this regard. More important is Gdynia's last game, at Kozly Poznan on June 16. A win there would mean that the Seahawks would host the 1 vs. 4 game in the semifinals, most likely against the AZS Silesia Rebels, while the Devils would then travel to Warsaw instead of going up to the coast again for a rematch.