Riga Lions 14 – Vitebsk Lynxes 7
Last weekend, in the regular season finale of the Baltic Sea League, the hometown Riga Lions from Latvia upset the undefeated Vitebsk Lynxes from Belarus 14-7 in front of a packed stadium.
The Lynxes entered the game undefeated having won their previous three games by a combined 88-13. Riga were underdogs with a 1-2 record.
Nevertheless, the Lions played outstanding defense holding the vaunted Vitebsk offense to seven points while scoring a touchdown right before the half as Jānis Jermacāns lept over the pile from two yards out. Riga missed the PAT but were only down 7-6 at halftime.
In the second half the Riga ground game started rolling as 270 lb running back (converted offensive guard) Jānis Jansons took charge pounding the Lynxes defense relentlessly. Nicknamed the Riga Tank, he enabled the Lions to keep possession of the ball, allowing Jēkabs Bitans to score the game-winning touchdown late in the game.
Jansons, who also played defensive line, was named player of the game.
The win catapulted Riga into the playoffs where they will meet the very same Lynxes September 12. In the other semifinal, the Tartu Titans will host the Grodno Barbarians.
The Baltic Sea League championship game is scheduled for October 10.
Thanks to Matīss Stabulnieks and Anna Ulmane of the Latvian American football federation
Photos: Kārlis Briedis