Carlstad Crusaders Overcome Surprising Early Test In Swedish League

The third weekend of the 2016 season in Sweden saw a surprisingly tough Limhamn Griffins squad give the reigning champion Carlstad Crusaders all they could handle for almost three quarters before the Crusaders pulled away for a 47-26 victory.

Running back Brett Koepp has hit midseason form as he powered his way to six touchdowns carrying the ball 33 times for 164 yards. On a day when quarterback Philip Juhlin found himself under more pressure than normal he still competed 29 of of 45 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown.

Limhamn Griffin quarterback Brian Ensminger was solid with 192 yards passing on 18 completions and one touchdown.

Contrary to what apparently had been said the previous week in Limhamns win over the Uppsala 86ers, the Griffins, it seems, are a pretty good football team.

Receiver Andre Holgård led the Crusaders with 11 catches for 127 yards while Belgian Ruben de Ruyter had eight receptions for 77 yards. Aleksandar Tomovic had 105 yards in receptions for Limhamn and one touchdown.

Carlstad opened the game in typical fashion scoring on their first two series while keeping the Griffins to minimum yardage. Koepp scored the first two touchdowns.

However, in the second quarter, the Crusaders reluctance to punt the ball handed Limhamn possession in excellent field position and the second time, the Griffins capitalized with Ensminger finding Aleksandar Tomovic from 17 yards out.

Sweden - Carlstad-Limhamn 2016 - QBs - 2pic

Philip Juhlin & Brian Ensminger Photos: Tommy Andersson

Carlstad was again stymied on their next series although deep in Griffins territory. Ensminger then led his team on an 11 play 81 yard drive culminating in a Henning Boitel Medina 10 yard touchdown run and the game was suddenly tied at 13-13 late in the first half.

The stunned crowd, who had been expecting the usual blowout by the hometown squad, watched as Carlstad had to battle. However, after a short Griffins kickoff, Juhlin went to work from his own 46 yard line and six plays later connected with 6’5″, 225 lb Jakob Dahre for the go ahead touchdown, giving Carlstad a 20-13 halftime lead.

The third quarter saw the Crusaders drive deep into Limhamn territory twice before Koepp finally punched the ball in on the third Carlstad possession extending the lead to 27-13 as the fourth quarter started.

A rare Koepp fumble was picked up by Griffins Marcus Andersson who returned it 60 yards to close the gap to 27-20 and the feisty Limhamn team showed that they were not going away easily.

Then, after the Crusaders had driven down to the Griffins eight yard line, Limhamn defensive back Oliver Persson picked off Juhlin giving the Griffins the ball on their own three. Inexplicably though, with plenty of time still left on the clock, Limhamn elected to go for it on fourth down from their own 14 yard line and failed. Carlstad took over and Koepp scored immediately making it 33-20.

Sweden - Carlstad-Limhamn 2016 - Holgard-Tomovic

Andre Holgård & Aleksandar Tomovic. Photos: Tommy Andersson

That marked the end it seemed as Carlstad took advantage of Limhamn‘s desperation, scoring again after another failed fourth down by the Griffins in their own end.

With the score 40-20, Ensminger found Tomovic for a 58 yard pass and then took the ball in himself to close the gap to 40-26. It was too little too late though as Koepp scored his sixth touchdown of the game on the next drive putting the game away 47-26.

Other games in Sweden

In other action in Sweden, 2015 finalists, the Örebro Black Knights (2-0) recorded their second straight win dismantling the Uppsala 86ers (0-2) 32-13 in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.

The final game of the weekend in Sweden saw the Tyresö Royal Crowns (1-1) rebound from their disappointing home opening loss to Carlstad, blanking the Stockholm Mean Machines (0-3) 36-0.

Carlstad tops the standings in Sweden at 2-0 followed by Örebro also at 2-0 and then Limhamn who are 2-1 and Tyresö (1-1).

Photo credits: Tommy Andersson

Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.