Finland: Helsinki Wolverines claim season’s second win in low scoring affair against United Newland Crusaders

Newly-arrived Helsinki Wolverines quarterback Jordan Williams, while not perfect, gave his team the jolt they needed in Sunday’s Maple League matchup against the United Newland Crusaders, leading Helsinki to their second win of the season, a 14-6 victory over the Crusaders.

The win keeps the Wolverines in playoff contention the season begins winding down.

The United Newland Crusaders managed to contain the shifty Williams for long stretches of the game but were unable to get anything going offensively themselves thanks to a fierce Helsinki defense. 

The Wolverines received the opening kick-off and made it clear from the opening drive they would be implementing a run-first strategy, a strategy they maintained for the entirety of the game. On that first series, Williams was able to occasionally get things going as he bobbed and weaved between defenders, but more often than not the Crusaders’ defense was able to rally to stall the drive.

The second drive for the Wolverines did bear fruit as Williams methodically drove his team down the field before handing off to running back Joonatan El-Quacef who leaped into the endzone from the five-yard line to take them up 7 – 0.

Wolverines RB Joonatan El-Quacef #7 rushed for 111 yards and 1 TD Photo: Irja Vaateri

The Crusaders offered up a very similar approach but instead relying on import running back Kameron Harris. And similarly, again, the Wolverines’ defense flew to the ball to prevent United Newland from earning any discernible gains.

The punters found copious amounts of work as each team’s defense turned it into a slog. Neither side could move the ball effectively through the air making the game a one-dimensional affair, and a simpler one for defenders. The Wolverines went in at the half up 7 – 0.

As the third quarter came and went, very little changed. Both teams were committed to the run, and it looked to pay off for the Wolverines at one point as they got down to the 10-yard line, but a forced turnover gave the ball straight back to the Crusaders

As the third quarter came to a close, Crusaders quarterback Robert Johnson (#9) connected with his Harris on a wheel route from the backfield that went for 50 yards. A couple of plays later, Johnson again hit Harris out of the backfield who scored the Crusaders’ first points of the game in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. A failed two-point conservation kept the score at 7 – 6.

Crusaders QB Robert Johnson #9 under pressure from Wolverines defenders Photo: Irja Vaateri

Just as it looked like the Crusaders were gaining momentum and getting back into the game, Williams and the Helsinki offense made a statement. On the very next drive, with El Ouacef and Williams carrying the ball, the Wolverines drove 60 yards in eight plays including a 34-yard scramble by the quarterback. Williams capped the drive with a two-yard scamper into the end zone, shaking off a would-be tackler, to increase the lead to 14-6 with seven minutes left.

United Newland offered very little in response as they tried to move away from the running game and were forced to punt. The Wolverines then kept the ball on the ground and ran the final six minutes off the clock to end the game 14 – 6.

This may not have been the way the Wolverines wanted to get their second win of the season offensively, but this should not take away from a stellar performance by their defense.

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.