After nearly three hours of scoreless football, both the Warsaw Spartans and the Białystok Lowlanders finally scored touchdowns in the second overtime of the inaugural PLFA Cup. The only difference was that the Spartans were successful on their conversion attempt while the Lowlanders were not, giving Warsaw a tense 7-6 win and their second consecutive championship in Poland's second division of football.
From past results, the game seemed to follow an entirely predictable course. The Spartans won the PLFA II title in similar style last year, getting a field goal in the second overtime session to beat the Płock Mustangs 11-8. Moreover, each of Warsaw's two regular-season victories over the Lowlanders in 2012 came by a mere two points.
Both teams had chances to take the lead in the first half on Saturday, with each missing on field goal attempts on respective trips into the red zone. The Lowlanders had the best chance to take the game in third quarter, turning the ball over near the Warsaw goal line after a long drive concocted by the legs and arm of quarterback Damian Kołpak.
Warsaw had their own chance to win it in the last period of regulation, when J Stuart Lund's fourth-down pass found Łukasz Szendała at the Białystok five-yard line to keep their final drive alive. After failing on the first three downs, the Spartan's went for it again on fourth down only to see Lund's pass attempt fall into the waiting hands of Lowlander linebacker Rafał Bierć. The first 0-0 regulation result in PLFA history was preserved.
In overtime, the Spartans showed the resiliency that led them to an 11-game winning streak over parts of the last two seasons, although again it did not come easily. Dariusz Marczak missed another field goal attempt on the Spartans' possession, and Warsaw was only saved when Kołpak lost the football again near the goal line to end Białystok's first turn with the ball.
Warsaw finally took control on the first possession of the second series with a 14-yard touchdown run by Maciej Pobudkiewicz. This time, Marczak's extra point kick was true and, with the Lowlanders down to their final chance, Warsaw was in position to take the title. Białystok approached the Warsaw end zone one last time, and on this occasion Kołpak finally finished the job with a 2-yard plunge that made it 7-6 for Warsaw. It was decision time for Białystok.
The Lowlanders opted to try to send the game to a third overtime, a task that got more difficult with a false start penalty on the extra point attempt. The kick was pushed back five yards, and when referee Dariusz Leoniak blew the ready-for-play whistle for a second time the ball was finally snapped. The kick had the distance but sailed wide of the post, recalling the scene in last year's SuperFinal VI, which ended with a missed field attempt by the Wrocław Devils.
Although it was Pobudkiewicz who finally got Warsaw on the scoreboard, it was Depczyński who lifted the game's MVP trophy. His strong running gained the Spartans first downs on several key occasions, allowing them to maintain pace with Białystok in a field-position battle that eventually ended in a stalemate.
In the end, the first PLFA Cup was a fitting conclusion to a season of parity in PLFA I. The Spartans and Lowlanders were tied in the standings at the end of the regular season, and had split their all-time series as well. The two teams met three times this season, and they were separated by a total of five points in those meetings. Somehow, the Spartans were able to emerge from each of those games with a victory after things looked bleak, and their reward for that is another championship.