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Devils win semifinal preview

Autor: Alex Zarganis Published: 25 Jun 2013 | Comments: 0

The Wrocław Devils clinched the South Division title on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Warsaw Eagles 27-25 in the capital in the final game of the regular season for both teams. The result means that the two teams will face each other once again in just a week's time, in the first Topliga semifinal. That game, however, will be played in Wrocław.

The 9-1 Devils, who finished the year with the best record in the Topliga, got a strong outing from quarterback Sedrick Harris, who left the game with a lower-leg injury in the fourth quarter. Harris ran for two first-half touchdowns, including a 50-yarder, before going to the sidelines. The Eagles were also hit by the injury bug, losing star returner Clarence Anderson late in the game.

Anderson, whose fifth punt return touchdown of the season brought the Eagles to within two points in the fourth quarter, was injured on that play and did not return. Although the injuries to both Harris and Anderson appear to be relatively minor, it is unlikely that either will be back at full strength (assuming they will indeed be back at all) within seven days, adding further intrigue to the semifinal rematch.

The Eagles managed only a Marcin Łojewski field goal in the first half, cutting the deficit to 15-3 after Harris's two scores. They fell further behind in the third quarter, when Harris threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Piotr Wis. Only then did the Eagles begin to fight back, starting with a 30-yard touchdown reception by Anderson.

The Devils appeared to have put the game out of reach again in the fourth quarter, when Harris completed another touchdown pass, this one going to Karol Pełechaty. Thanks to a penalty, Wrocław had two shots at the conversion, but they failed on both, leaving the Eagles within two scores. Krzysztof Stojak then caught Shane Gimzo's second touchdown pass of the game with just five minutes remaining, but this time the Eagles failed to convert afterwards and the scoreline read 27-17.

Wrocław quickly had to give the ball back to the Eagles, who got pressure on the punter and forced a short kick out of bounds. With momentum building, Warsaw got as far as the 15-yard line before Adam Lary came up with an interception to give the Devils the ball back with 2:30 remaining. With the game seemingly over once again, the Eagles defense stopped Wrocław quickly one last time.

The Devils had kicked away from Anderson all day long, both on kickoffs and on punts, but this time he was finally able to get his hands on a bouncing kick near the Devils sideline. He crossed the entire field and outran tacklers all the way up the other sideline to put a cap on an incredible regular season. The Eagles converted the two-point try but, with no timeouts remaining, they were unable to recover the onside kick and, with two kneel-downs, the Devils had finally won.

This will be the fourth consecutive season in which the Devils and the Eagles have met in the semifinal round of the playoffs. The Devils defeated the Eagles on their way to winning the championship in 2010, while the only win for the Eagles against the Devils in the playoffs came last season. Kickoff time is set for 4 PM.

Eagles: Saturday, June 29, 4:00 PM: at Wrocław Devils (Topliga semifinal)
Devils: Saturday, June 29, 4:00 PM: vs. Warsaw Eagles (Topliga semifinal)


Alex Zarganis
PLFA Press Bureau

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