Date: 01 Jul 2012
Home: Warsaw Eagles - 37
Away: Wroclaw Devils - 20
Eagles bound for NAC SuperFinal VII.
Warsaw breaks Wroclaw curse for good in 37-20 semifinal win over Devils.
Although the temperature on the artificial field at Fort Bema was fitting for a game involving the Devils, it was the Warsaw Eagles who prevailed 37-20 over Wroclaw in the Topliga's second semifinal on Sunday afternoon. With the victory, the Eagles earned a trip to NAC SuperFinal VII at the National Stadium in Warsaw, where they will face the Gdynia Seahawks for the Polish national championship on July 15.
The Devils were hurt by the loss of their star running back and returner Niles Mittasch early in the first half. Unable to find a rhythm on offense without Mittasch, who was the Topliga regular season scoring leader with 140 points, Wroclaw was shut out before the intermission and never really gave the Eagles a scare before making the final tally respectable with a couple of late scores.
The MVP of the game for the Eagles was probably tight end Grzegorz Janiak, who ran wild through the Wroclaw defense in the first half despite a mistake that nearly cost his team a touchdown. Janiak scored the only points of the first quarter when he split wide and caught a ball running in stride up the inside seam on his way to a 34-yard touchdown. To that point the first quarter had been mainly a battle for field position, with Warsaw gaining the advantage on the strength of good punt returns by Tyrone Landrum.
Janiak struck again in the second quarter, nearly scoring a second touchdown on a play where he broke free up the right sideline for a 61-yard gain. He spiked the ball in celebration just shy of the goal line, however, and luckily for the Eagles it went out of bounds there instead of bouncing into the end zone. Landrum punched it in three plays later, and Brett Peddicord added a 44-yard field goal after a Devils fumble to give Warsaw a 16-0 lead at the break. Janiak finished the half with 3 catches for 117 yards.
Wroclaw quarterback Vinnie Maroth, playing only his third game with the team, failed to connect with his receivers on timing patterns throughout the third quarter, and when his passes were on target they ended up dropped more often than not. The Eagles offense kept rolling, however, with Landrum's acrobatic 14-yard touchdown reception putting them up 23-0 midway through the third. The Devils finally got a drive together shortly thereafter, cutting the deficit to 23-6 on an 18-yard pass from Maroth to Layton Jones.
The scoring picked up in the fourth quarter with both defenses melting in the heat and humidity, but the Eagles were too far ahead at that point for Wroclaw to mount a comeback. By the time Maroth hit Jones again for a 65-yard score it was 30-12 for Warsaw. The Devils recovered the ensuing onside kick, but Maciej Traczyk intercepted a Maroth hitch pass and took it to the end zone to effectively end all hope for Wroclaw.
The Eagles advance to the championship game for the third time, facing the same opponent they beat in their previous two appearances. Warsaw defeated the Seahawks in 2006 to win the first Polish national championship, and again in 2008 to become the first two-time champions. They will face a Gdynia team that has won nine straight games, including a 34-24 triumph over the Eagles in Warsaw on May 13. Even with that victory, Gdynia stills trails the all-time series 7-2.