Date: 08 Jun 2013
Home: Wroclaw Giants - 25
Away: Wroclaw Devils - 32
Defense and special teams lead Devils to 32-25 victory over Giants
The Wroclaw derby has probably been the most consistently exciting matchup of the top division of Polish football in recent years. Saturday's renewal was no exception, as the Wroclaw Devils got big plays from their defense all through the second half to hang on for a 32-25 victory over the Giants, going ahead in the Topliga South Division title race in the process.
If there was a silver lining for the Giants, it was that the Devils were unable to match the margin of victory of their rivals from when roles were reversed in May, meaning that if the two teams end up tied at the end of the season the Giants would take the division title. The Devils now lead the Giants by a full game, but the Giants have the easier schedule the rest of the way, as the Devils will have to visit the Warsaw Eagles to finish the year.
As is usually the case in the Wroclaw derby, the lead changed hands countless times, including twice in the first quarter alone. The game started off in spectacular fashion, with two length-of-the-field plays coming before the first snap from scrimmage. Xavier Glenn ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown for the Devils, but the Giants blocked the PAT attempt and Deante Battle picked up the loose ball and ran it back all the way for a two-point touchdown that made it 6-2.
Giants quarterback Bartosz Dziedzic ran hot and cold all afternoon, but he started off well by throwing a 22-yard touchdown pass to his brother, Tomasz, to give the Giants their first lead. Every score of the game from that point saw the lead changed hands, and the Devils went back ahead before the first quarter was done when Karol Pelechaty caught a 32-yard touchdown pass from Sedrick Harris.
The American stars for both teams made their presence known in the second quarter. Jamal Schulters made it 15-12 for the Giants early in the quarter with his league-leading 19th touchdown run. Glenn then struck back with a touchdown run of his own, before Mark Philmore gave the Giants a 22-18 halftime lead with a 21-yard touchdown reception.
The heavyweights traded blows once more in the third quarter, although in both cases it was special teams that got the job done. The Devils went ahead 24-22 when Austin Smith caught a blocked field goal attempt and outraced pursuers up the right sideline for another spectacular touchdown. The Giants marched back down the field on their next possession, but they were stopped once again upon reaching field goal range. This time Dawid Panczyszyn's 37-yard kick was successful, and the Giants led 25-24 going into the final quarter of play.
The Giants had a chance to extend the lead early in the fourth quarter when the Dziedzic brothers combined on a 70-yard pass that put them into scoring position. Luckily for the Devils, Tomasz stepped out of bounds on his way to the end zone, and the Giants were subsequently stopped four times to give the ball to the Devils on downs and keep the teams within a point of each other.
Harris then led the Devils on a long drive, using both his arm and his feet in the process. He began the drive with a 30-yard run, and then completed passes to Dawid Tarczynski, Glenn and Piotr Wis before running into the end zone himself from four yards out to give the Devils the lead for a final time. A two-point conversion pass to Tarczynski extended the lead to seven points.
With time running down, the Giants began moving downfield, and in a game like this it seemed that the only question would be whether they would go for the tie or the win after they scored. Patryk Matkowski caught a Dziedzic pass near midfield and began to run with it, but Przemyslaw Cudak was waiting for him with a big hit that jarred the ball loose. The Devils fell on the ball and, interestingly, they decided to take a knee rather than take a risk in trying to better the Giants' margin of victory from the first meeting of the season.
If the Devils win out the rest of the way, the division title will now certainly be theirs. They will be on the road on June 16, against the AZS Silesia Rebels, before their big matchup in the capital on June 22. The Giants will close out the regular season with home games against the Steelers on June 15 and against Kozly Poznan on June 23.