Date: 14 Apr 2013
Home: Gdynia Seahawks - 32
Away: Wroclaw Giants - 28
Champs emerge on top in tense encounter with Giants, still undefeated after 32-28 win
The marquee matchup of the Topliga's third weekend lived entirely up to its billing on Sunday afternoon, as the defending champion Seahawks defeated the Wroclaw Giants 32-28 in the top division's first 2013 meeting of members of the 'Big Four' in Gdynia. The Seahawks moved to 3-0 with the victory, ahead of their big rematch with the Warsaw Eagles next week.
The lead changed hands four times in the second half, as the last two champions of Poland slugged it out in a game that hopefully portends the kind of football that will be seen in this year's Topliga playoffs. Gawel Pilachowski scored a pair of touchdowns for the third straight game for the Seahawks, who have now won 13 in a row overall dating back to last season.
Jamal Schulters put the Giants up 7-0 early with the first of his three touchdowns, a 7-yard run that came on the opening drive of the game for the Wroclaw offense. That possession began inside the Gdynia red zone after the Seahawks turned the ball over the first time they had it on offense. Schulters found the end zone again the next time the Giants got the ball, but the score was brought back by a penalty and Wroclaw had to settle for a field goal attempt that was unsuccessful.
The Seahawks finally struck on the ensuing possession, when a Ferni Garza pump fake basically left Jeremy Dixon uncovered for what turned out to be a 64-yard touchdown reception. The extra point was no good, however, and the Giants led 7-6. Although their offense stalled on the next possession, Kamil Ruta pinned Gdynia at the 2-yard line with an excellent punt, and Wroclaw tackled Dixon in the end zone on the next play to take a 9-6 lead at the end of a quarter.
The Giants extended their lead to ten points after getting the ball back thanks to the safety. Schulters took a screen pass on third-and-17 and went 35 yards with it behind exceptional blocking to put the Seahawks in a hole from which they would spend the rest of the quarter digging out. Things looked bleaker for Gdynia when they were forced to punt shortly thereafter, but a defensive penalty on the punt play gave them new life. Pilachowski, continuing to play well in the absence of Sebastian Krzysztofek, finished the drive with a 20-yard touchdown run.
Wroclaw had a chance to go back up by double-digits before the half, but Peter Plesa came up big for the Seahawks with an interception in the end zone. Gdynia seized the momentum on that play, and Garza hit Marcin Bluma for a 25-yard touchdown that gave Gdynia their first lead of the ballgame. They would go on to hold that 20-16 advantage going into the locker rooms for halftime.
The Giants again came out strong in the third quarter, and in fact they would have been the better team for much of the game if not for penalties. They took a 22-20 lead when Bartosz Dziedzic found his brother, Tomasz, for a 35-yard touchdown, but Pilachowski brought the lead back into Gdynia's hands shortly thereafter with his second score. Once again, the Seahawks touchdown came after Wroclaw had stopped them but allowed a drive to continue with a penalty on fourth down.
The lead changed hands again before the third quarter ended, with Schulters going in a third time to give Wroclaw a 28-26 lead. The teams traded possessions before the Giants had the ball at their own 10-yard line with less than four minutes remaining, when Dziedzic dropped back to pass and was hit as he threw. The play was ruled a fumble, and the Seahawks took over with a golden opportunity to snatch the lead. This time, Garza used his feet to get points for the Seahawks, running in from 7 yards out for the game's final score.
While the Seahawks will be pleased with the result, they will not have time to rest on their laurels, as they travel to Warsaw next weekend to face the Eagles in a rematch of NAC SuperFinal VII. The Giants, on the other hand, will get at least one more chance for revenge later in the year, and possibly even two if these teams meet again in the postseason. In other words, nothing is decided yet.