Belarus’s Minsk Zubrs steal Ukraine’s American football title

The Minsk Zubrs from Belarus have won the 2016 Ukrainian League of American Football championship by defeating the Kiev Bandits 24-14.

A total of 20 teams had started the year off with Minsk being the only non-Ukrainian team participating in the breakaway ULAF. And Saturday saw the final two battle.

The Zubrs entered the game after posting a 5-1 regular season record and eliminating the Kiev Bulldogs in the semifinals. Meanwhile, Kiev had a 4-2 record but had knocked off the first place Uzhgorod Lumberjacks to reach the final.

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Photo credit: Dmitri Pratsenko

The two teams had split the season series so the final promised to be a showdown.

The Bandits took control of the game early on though building a 7-0 lead. But the Zubrs had a habit throughout the season of adjusting as the game went on and did so in this championship game as well. Game MVP running back Alexander Krivonos scored his first of two touchdowns while the Zubrs took a 7-6 halftime lead.

Minsk scored again early in the second half, but the Bandits pulled even in the third quarter 14-14 as quarterback Maxim Cherepivsky ran the ball in.

Then Krivonos scored again from 32 yards out and the Minsk defense kept the Bandits in check. The Zubrs kicked a field goal in the fourth quarter to make the score 24-14 and they held on to win their first Ukrainian championship after several years of trying.

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Bronze medal game action Photo credit: Photo: Yevgeny Kudryavtsev

In the bronze medal game between the Uzhgorod Lumberjacks and Kiev Bulldogs, the Lumberjacks had no trouble winning the game 42-14.

Lia Zelinska
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