CEFL: Stockholm Mean Machines defeat Kuopio Steelers in nail-biting finish.

The opening weekend of the Central European Football League competition produced a nail biter as the reigning Swedish Superserien champions, the Stockholm Mean Machines needed a last minute goal line stand to finally defeat the defending Finnish Maple League champion Kuopio Steelers 31-28 at Zinkensdamms IP field in Stockholm.

Right from kickoff, you could see that both teams came ready to play. The Mean Machines started off the game with an opening drive touchdown that was capped off with a pass from quarterback Mark Pappas to Elliot Reer for a seven-yard score.

Kuopio had no problems responding on their own as they marched 80 yards down the field for a score of their own. After a crucial fourth down pass interference, the Mean Machines set up the Steelers to give the ball to their star player L’Anthony Reasnover for a seven-yard score of his own.

While the rest of the first quarter didn’t result in much more scoring the Mean Machines were able to take a 9-point lead as Alvin Gustafsson kicked a 37-yard field goal, and then Pappas connected with Anton Blomgren for another passing touchdown to make the score 16-7.

Photo: Stefan Akander

Although they had been shut out since their first drive at the latter end of the second quarter, Kuopio started to get into their groove. After mixing in doses from the workhorse Anthony Reasnover, Steelers quarterback Ambro Urjansson connected with Hannes Harju for two consecutive touchdowns and would take a 21-16 lead heading into the second half.

If the second quarter belonged to the Steelers, then the third quarter had the Mean Machines name written all over it. Kuopio had all the momentum in the game as they would get the ball first to start the half. After forcing a very quick fumble, the Mean Machines would regain the lead  after a two-yard score on the ground from Lukas Sjöström.

Stockholm would continue to build their lead in the third after another successful stop on defense and another rushing touchdown. This time Carlos Holmqvist found the end zone from three yards out, making the score 31-21 in favor of the home team.

Kuopio RB L’Anthony Reasnover #25 Photo: Stefan Akander

Kuopio and Reasnover would not go down without a fight, however. The Steelers star running back brought the game to within three late in the fourth period as he found plenty of daylight for a 53-yard touchdown scamper to make the score 31-28.

After getting a stop, Kuopio took possession with a chance to steal the victory in the closing seconds of the game. However, during a wild sequence which included a dropped touchdown pass, a touchdown called back due to a holding penalty and an illegal forward pass to end the game, the Steelers could not find the end zone and Stockholm held strong to come away with the 31-28 win.

The Stockholm Mean Machines will have a tough test in the next stage of the CEFL as they face the defending CEFL champions from Germany, the Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns, on May 13.

Noah Costantino is a student and football player at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. Fueled by his love for the game he looks to continue his knowledge of football at an international level. He is majoring in Communications with a