Finland: Helsinki Roosters continue to march, down Tampere Saints

The Helsinki Roosters, Europe #3, improved their record to 3-0 as they rolled past the 1-2 Tampere Saints, beating them 35-14 in Finland’s Maple League at Pyynikin field in Tampere this past weekend.

Despite the score, the Saints did not make it easy for Helsinki.

The Roosters struggled at times, especially in the second quarter when Tampere did not allow them out of their own half of the field.

Nevertheless, in the third quarter, Helsinki exploded for three touchdowns and held the Saints to a late touchdown for the win.

Helsinki quarterback Brandon Connette threw for 298 yards and five touchdowns with his brother Adam catching seven for 66 yards and a touchdown and Henri Jussila catching four for 68 yards and two touchdowns. Tommi Pinta and Alexander Kuronen also caught touchdown passes. As a team, the Roosters only rushed for 24 yards.

Photo: Jarmo Vehkomäki

For the Saints, quarterback Kyle Nolan threw for 126 yards but was the leading rusher in the game with 46 yards rushing. Running backs Tuukka Lehtonen and Matti Airaksinen each scored touchdowns. The Saints outrushed Helsinki 140-24. Saints receiver Micky Kyei led all receivers with four catches for 76 yards.

The Roosters jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead on touchdowns from Kuronen and Jussila as Connette was able to move the offense with ease.

The Saints defense stiffened in the second quarter though and the offense began to click. Airaksinen capped an 11 play, 62 yard drive with a one yard touchdown plunge closing the gap to 14-6 at the half.

With Helsinki’s offense seemingly stalled, the third quarter looked promising for Tampere. However, Rooster head coach Juha Hakala clearly made his halftime adjustments and a different Roosters team emerged in the third quarter.

On Helsinki’s first possession, Connette found a streaking Jussila for a 51 yard touchdown pass. Then two series later, Connette connected with Pinta to stretch the lead to 28-7. Nolan was picked off late in the third quarter and the Roosters took over on Tampere’s 43 yard line and six plays later Connette threw to his brother Adam from three yards out giving Helsinki a 35-6 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Nolan then led his team on a four minute, nine-play 89 yard drive and Lehtonen finished it off with a one yard touchdown to close the gap to 35-14, but with only 18 second left, it was too late for any more heroics.

Next up for the Roosters are the Kuopio Steelers June 11, while Tampere has a short week and will play the Wasa Royals, Friday June 8.

Check out Brandon Connette’s third quarter TD pass to Henri Jussila

Source: Mika Lauria, vaahateraliga.fi

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