New champion crowned in Russia as Moscow Spartans win first ever title

The Moscow Spartans have finally joined the ranks of only three teams that have managed to beat the dominant Moscow Patriots for the Russian title (only the now-defunct Black Storm and St. Petersburg Griffins have achieved that feat in 2013 and 2015 respectively). The Spartans outlasted the Patriots in a defensive battle, 7-3.

The result seemed a little overdue as the Patriots have failed to beat the Spartans in the regular season since 2016, but the game proved to be as close as it could have been.

With a dominant performance by both defenses in the first half, the Patriots took a slim 3-0 lead into the halftime. By that point, the game was reminiscent of the 2016 Finals that they won by the score of just 9-7, having never seen the end zone once. In addition, their optimism was fueled by the return of one of their biggest offensive weapons Faalevao TJ Esekielu, who had to miss the first two quarters because of the league import rules.

It gave them the necessary spark and they started to move the ball much more effectively in the third quarter, but turned the ball over twice in the opposition red zone. Their next turnover in the fourth quarter proved to be even more costly, as an Esekielu fumble gave the Spartans a short field that they were able to convert into a Denis Pronking rushing touchdown to go up 7-3. Another interception on the Patriots next drive sealed the game for the Spartans as the final score remained the same.

Ilya Kravtsov
After being involved in bringing American football to his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia, Ilya would go on to play in the Japanese X-League, helping his side Tokyo Bullseyes advance all the way to the top tier of the league and become the only non-corporate team in X-1. He's currently the defensive coordinator of St. Petersburg Griffins, as well as the head coach of St. Petersburg Valkyries.
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