Finland: Helsinki Roosters defeat Hämeenlinna Huskies to stay unbeaten

The Helsinki Roosters jabbed a big hole in the Finnish title aspirations of the previously undefeated Hämeenlinna Huskies (4-1), downing them 35-8 in Hämeenlinna Monday night.

With the win, the Roosters remain the only unbeaten team in Finland’s Maple League with a 6-0 record.

Roosters quarterback Brandon Connette completed 13 of 23 passes for 136 yards and a touchdown and ran one in himself. Running back Jaycen Taylor rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown. Receiver Timothy Thomas caught a touchdown pass and the defense did the rest as Curtis Slater returned a Huskies fumble 74 yards for a touchdown and Santtu Ayravainen returned an interception 100 yards for another touchdown.

For the Huskies quarterback Stan Bedwell threw for 114 yards and rushed for another 45. Receiver Roman Runner scored the lone touchdown for Hämeenlinna midway through the fourth quarter with the game out of hand.

Helsinki grabbed control early, scoring on their first possession after forcing a Huskies three and out as Taylor scampered in from the six. Then on the very next series Slater picked up the fumble and raced 74 yards for the score.

The Roosters defense continued to play well forcing another three and out. Connette went to work on the following drive taking Helsinki down to the Huskies four yard line. He took the ball in on the next play and the Helsinki lead was 21-0 as the quarter ended.

Bedwell finally got the Hämeenlinna rolling on the next possession, and marched them down to the Roosters six yard line. On fourth and two, Ayravainen picked off a pass in the end zone and raced 100 yards to score and give Helsinki a 28-0 lead still early in the second.

The Huskies offense seemed to kick into gear after that and penetrated the Helsinki red zone twice before the half but came away empty handed both times.

With the Roosters leading 28-0, the third quarter saw both defenses play bend but don’t break football. Both teams reached the red zone without scoring but a failed fourth down gamble early in the fourth gave the Roosters the ball on Hämeenlinna’s 36 yard line and Connette wasted no time. Four plays later he connected with Thomas to extend the lead to 35-0 with 10 minutes left in the game.

After Bedwell suffered an injury on the ensuing drive, Runner scored the final touchdown on a nine yard run and Helsinki came away with a complete team victory.

Helsinki leads the Finnish league midway through the season with a 6-0 record. These two teams will face each other again July 31, no doubt in a showdown for first.

 Watch Santtu Ayravainen pick off a Bedwell pass on the goal line and return it 100 yards for a touchdown.

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.