CEFL: Fantastic Night In Wroclaw

Dawid Szulc Photography

Olympic stadium in Wroclaw was the stage of a fantastic game last night. Home team, Wroclaw Panthers set the rhythm from the start with their quarterback Timothy Morovick passing to Patryk Matkowski for 20 yards. Morovick then continued to move the chains with his own rushes to finally cross the goal line on a 1 yard surge.

When SWARCO Raiders got the ball, quarterback Sean Shelton and running back Sandro Platzgummer began their own soiree. The two connect for passes of 12 and 25 yards and Shelton add his own 20 yard dash which is enough for a field goal by Fabial Abfalter.

The pair is mirrored in the very next drive by Panthers’ own dynamic duo of Morovick and running back Adam Skakowski. They take turns rushing for first downs through a porous Raiders defense, for Skakowski to end with a 4 yard rushing touchdown.

Austrian team takes over with another running back, Tobias Bonatti’s 40 yard grab before the end of the first quarter. A couple of passes later, Shelton jumps into the end zone again for 2 yards.

Panthers don’t let up for a moment. Morovick delivers accurate passes and rushes himself twice for 12 yards. Skakowski pierces the defense for a 19 yard running score.

Raiders connect the scoring plays with a kickoff return touchdown by Platzgummer, proving to the deflated audience in Wroclaw that his 7 touchdowns in the national league were no fluke.

After an ineffective drive that ends near their own end zone, Panthers’ special team falters again, punting the ball just 25 yards away from it. Platzgummer takes advantage of the short field hauling in a 20 yard pass and Shelton finishes the drive with a 2 yard quarterback sneak for a score. Raiders take the first lead in the game and never let go from there.

Poles have the last drive of the half and Morovick plays hurry up with precision passes to Kłoskowski twice for 10 yards and Adam Nelip for 37 yards. Touchdown seems to be within grasp right before he’s sacked for the loss of 15 yards. The intermission ensues with the score 20-24.

Panthers’ special team partially redeems itself in the first play of the second half, stripping the ball from the kickoff returner Bonatti and taking over at the opponent’s 29 yard line. This time however, Raiders defense picks up the slack and stops Morovick and company, only for their offense to sputter.

After a couple of fruitless drives by both teams, Platzgummer plays a simultaneous exhibition with the Panthers defense, clutching Shelton’s passes from the air left and right and scoring the only passing touchdown of the game for 18 yards.

Morovick and Skakowski rotate in offense between themselves rushing for first downs, eventually having to turn the ball over to Raiders. This time, Platzgummer’s catches are not enough for a score and the Panthers get the ball back again on their own 27 yards.

Time is quickly dwindling and they know it’s their last chance to close the 10 point gap. After a couple of productive rushes, Morovick fires a deep pass to the right, only to be intercepted by defensive back Patrick Pilger, who returns the ball to Panthers’ 20 yard line. With two minutes on the clock, Raiders bring the game to a close with short runs and a field goal of 28 yards.

Panthers head coach, Nick Johansen, who served as the offensive line coach to the Raiders in earlier seasons, lauded his team after the game: “I couldn’t be more proud of our team. We played a good game but made some mistakes and the Raiders took advantage of them. Hats off to them, they played their tails off and we couldn’t ask for a better test tonight.”

After playing a near perfect game in the second half, completely stopping opposing offense, Raiders captain, defensive lineman Jermaine Guynn had this to say: “We weren’t communicating well at first, we were excited, so we had to come down and play our system. They came out strong but once we settled down we started playing better defense.”

Next game in the Western Conference of CEFL Championship is in a fortnight, when SWARCO Raiders play host to Triangle Razorbacks in Innsbruck. With the win in Wroclaw, the Austrians are one win away from CEFL Bowl, but the Danish champion will have plenty to say about that.

Final score - 20:33