Game Report: Wroclaw Panthers vs. Cologne Centurions
It was the kickoff of the inaugural season of the European League of Football and a total show. The Wroclaw Panthers were playing the Cologne Centurions in the Olympic Stadium of Wroclaw with nearly tropical circumstances and a lot of hype around the first kickoff. Commissioner Patrick Esume and CEO Zeljko Karajica were present at the game and the CEO himself was responsible for the coin- toss. The Panthers had to deal with a change in the backfield before the start of the season, making Lucas O’Conner the new quarterback and signing two new running backs with Phileas Pasqualini and Mark Herndon.
The Panthers took over the game fast with having possession in the first drive. A good stop at the goal-line on 4 th -and-goal helped the Centurions not getting behind early. Centurions quarterbacks Jan Weinreich and Danny Farley switched the starting spot often because it gave the Centurions the chance to bring running back Madre London and Quinton Pounds into the game, as only two American imports are allowed on the field at the same time. Early drives were not successful making the defenses the dominating part on both sided. Starting with the interception of Darius Robinson, reaching a good field position, the Panthers left their marks. Lucas O’Connor to Jakub Mazan started of the Panthers streak with 7-0 and the first touchdown of the European League of Football ever! A Darius Robinson pick-six helped to put the Panthers in front early with a 14-0 lead.
A rather long drive helped the Panthers to run over the field but they could not finish in the first place and had the chance to get one more possession in the second quarter. Unfortunately, the Panthers fumbled an interception by Daniel Piątkowski which was picked up by Centurions receiver Noah Aarass and then returned for a Centurions touchdown. Jakub Mazan reacted to it in classic fashion, returning a ball to the 50 Yard Line, while Pasqualini had no problem catching the ball and running it in for another Panthers touchdown. Close before the halftime, the Centurions answered again with a catch-and-run by Ezeala on 3 rd -and-1 to end the half. With 28-14, the Panthers went into the halftime with a two-score difference.
Ezeala had to leave the field with cramps as the heat of the afternoon got a little too much for some players. Madre London took his spot and collected an 80-yard touchdown soon to make it a one- score game again. After a muffed punt by the Centurions, the Panthers were able to score a field goal. Panthers quarterback Lucas O’Connor was able to direct the game with his Head Coach Jakub Samel having a good gameplan to react to the Centurions coming up. A pass to Zielba put the Panthers on the board again. But there was one guy running wild: Madre London showed what he is able to do. Centurions wide receiver Noah Aarass on the other hand hauled in a catch in the corner of the endzone to answer yet again.
The fourth quarter started as the last one ended: touchdown Centurions. Madre London ran through a big whole in the opposing defense for a 60-yard touchdown. After that score, a strike to Banat changed the momentum a bit. Leading with 45-33, the Panthers took over in the last 8 Minutes of the game, kicking another field goal. Another Madre London touchdown with four minutes left could not help the Centurions making the final step. Pasqualini had himself the final score to make it a 55- 39 win for the Panthers.
The first game showed what both teams have to work on. A stable and good offensive performance helped the Panthers to win the game that could have been turned around many times. The Cologne Centurions were keeping up with the Panthers but the Polish franchise came up with the win at the end. With the loss of both Chris Ezeala on Centurions side and Darius Robinson on Panthers side, they have to look into the upcoming weeks differently. For the Centurions, both Surge and Dragons looked promising to fight for the spot on top of the southern conference. Meanwhile, the Panthers will watch their conference opponents ball out today.