The Carlstad Crusaders opened their 2018 season where they finished the 2017 season in Örebro, beating their championship finals opponent the Örebro Black Knights in a thriller 39-32.
This was a far different game than all their meetings in 2017, The Crusaders were forced to come from behind three times and then it was their special teams that saved the day. New British kick returner Natal Melero proved he is a speedster, as he returned the kickoff on Orebro’s final go-ahead touchdown 90 yards to restore the Carlstad lead late in the third. Then the punt cover unit blocked a Black Knights punt in the fourth quarter giving Carlstad the ball on the Örebro seven yard line. A field goal was all that was needed to seal the win.
Before that, the offenses ruled the game.
Carlstad quarterback Philip Juhlin completed 28 of 40 passes for 315 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another 51. Wide receiver Robin Juhlin had four catches for 106 yards including a 58 yard touchdown reception. Jacob Dahre hauled in nine passes for 69 yards and a touchdown while Marcus Johnson caught four passes for 44 yards. Viktor Toresson and Christian Forsman each had a rushing touchdown and Melero a kickoff return touchdown.
Raleigh Yeldell served notice on the rest of the league as the Orebro quarterback was dangerous the entire game. He threw for 170 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another 70 and three touchdowns. New running back Timmy Goransson was a workhorse for the Black Knights carrying the ball 20 times for 129 yards.
Orebro opened the scoring after Carlstad could not convert a fourth and one on their own 30 yard line giving the Black Knights excellent field position. Yeldell made no mistake carrying the ball in from the three giving Orebro a 7-0 lead.
Turnovers plagued both teams as a Yeldell fumble later in the quarter gave Carlstad the ball on the Black Knights 30 and four plays later Toresson evened the score at 7-7.
Carlstad took a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter as Juhlin found Dahre from 14 yards out. Then Yeldell took his team on a 15 play, 79 yard drive, finishing it off himself on a five yard plunge to pull closer 14-13. The Black Knights then re-took the lead midway through the second quarter as Yeldell capped another brilliant drive with a two yard touchdown, putting the Black Knights out in front, 19-14 at the half.
The Black Knights extended the lead to 25-14 to open the third quarter as Yeldell again found a seam from a yard out after Goransson had carried the ball six times for 67 yards to put them in position to score.
The Crusaders responded as Juhlin engineered back-to-back scoring drives to give Carlstad a 29-25 lead late in the third. And the Black Knights regained the lead again on a 13 yard Yeldell to Jacobsen touchdown pass late in the third. That’s when Melero dashed the hopes of the hometown Orebro fans, returning the kickoff 90 yards to give the Crusaders a 36-32 lead as the period ended.
The Black Knights never seemed to be able to recover as Yeldell did not return to the game after suffering an undetermined injury and the Carlstad defense played terrific football the rest of the way.
The Crusaders added a field goal for good measure and then hung on for the all important first win.