Team Finland wins bronze at 2018 IFAF European Championships

Team Finland scored two fourth quarter touchdown to help defeat Sweden 35-21 and win the bronze medal in the 2018 IFAF European Championships.

Finland had taken a 21-6 lead early in the third quarter only to watch Sweden surge back scoring back-to-back touchdowns to tie the game entering the fourth period. Then Karri Pajarinen (game’s leading rusher) and Vekko Lehtonen each scored with Lehtonen punching the ball in with less than two minutes to go to seal the win.

Finnish quarterback Miro Kadmiry who played the entire game for the first time in the tournament, was an efficient 13 of 19 for 159 yards and one touchdown. Marcus Silskonen caught two passes for 41 yards including the touchdown pass from Kadmiry while Tommie Pinta caught three passes for 29 yards. Pajarinen had 12 carries for 82 yards and two touchdowns while Lehtonen had eight carries for 36 yards and two touchdowns.

Team Finland RB Karri Pajarinen scored 2 TDs Photo: Samppa Toivonen

For Sweden, Philip Juhlin threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 80 yards and the other touchdown. Jacob Dahre was his main target with 10 receptions for 122 yards and a touchdown while Emil Knutsson hauled in an 18 yard pass for a touchdown.

Finland took control early, forcing a bad punt on Team Sweden’s first possession and taking over the ball on the Swedish 45 yard line. Four plays later, Pajarinen finished a drive which saw him carry the ball on every play, punching it in from the 22 yard line giving Finland a 7-0 lead.

Sweden responded with a 14 play, 63 yard drive that consumed seven minutes and carried them down to the Finnish 16 yard line but came up empty handed missing a field goal. It was a brutal blow and decisive for Finland.

Five plays and two minutes later, Kadmiry connected with Siiskonen for a 34 yard touchdown and Finland held a 14-0 lead.

Team Sweden WR Jacob Dahre had 122 yards receiving and 1 TD Photo: Samppa Toivonen

Again Sweden marched into Finnish territory but this time Juhlin was picked off at Finland’s 10 yard line.

When Finland had to punt on the next series, Juhlin then engineered an 80 yard drive finishing it off with an eight yard run to close the gap to 14-6 at the half.

The second half opened with Finland driving down to Sweden’s four yard line, helped by Suoste’s 50 yard run, and Lehtonen scoring to increase the lead to 21-6.

Juhlin and the Swedish offense had now found a rhythm and scored on the next two possessions, controlling the clock. First Juhlin found Dahre from seven yards out and then hit Knutsson for an 18 yeard touchdown and Sweden pulled even 21-21 as the fourth quarter opened.

That was as close as they got though as Kadmiry drove Finland 74 yards in just over four minutes with Pajarinen finishing with a four yard touchdown and Finland went back out in front 28-21. Finland then capitalized on a Swedish fumble, driving the ball again from their own 35 with Lehtonen scoring on a four yard run to seal the win.

Juhlin was picked off one last time to end all hopes for Sweden and Finland began celebrating.

This was the third bronze medal in the European Championships for Finland. They also took third in 2005 and back in 1987.

Photos: Samppa Toivonen

 

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