Finland Holds on in Thriller; Defeats Sweden 16-13

Finland tops Swedes, keep 2015 World Championships aspirations alive!

photos via SAFF

Finland gained a measure of revenge for their opening day loss to Germany in the European American Football Championships downing rival Sweden 16-13 Sunday afternoon in St. Pölten, Austria.

Paced by the running of tough Veikka Lehtonen, (108 yards on 24 carries, 1 TD) Finland maintained ball control for much of the game gaining 163 yards on the ground. Finnish kicker Akseli Olin for Finland kicked three of three field goals (45, 28 and 32 yards) and also kicked a PAT making him the game’s leading scorer with 10 points.

Finland’s ball control offense led to two first quarter field goals from the leg of their kicker Olin as Sweden could not find a way to stop Lehtonen. When they did, Finnish quarterback Miro Kadmiry stepped up rushing for a total of 55 yards on the game. Normally solid Swedish kicker Kimrin had a couple of bad miscues as he muffed a punt from his own 20-yard line that dribbled out of bounds at the 24. This led to a Finnish field goal. He also missed a PAT late in the first half.

Sweden finally got on the board with nine seconds in the first half on a 30 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Phillip Juhlin (16 of 32, 1 TD, 1 int. for 197 yards), who replaced starter Anders Hermodsson, to wideout Fredrik Eklund.


Finland vs. Sweden

The start of the second half saw Finland engineer a 66 yard drive which ended with another Olin field goal. Sweden could not respond and with two minutes left in the third Veikka Lehtonen powered the Finns down the field on a 72 yard drive scoring a 15 yard touchdown to cap the drive and extend their lead to 16-6.

Finland’s 10 point lead held until midway through the fourth, when Phillip Juhlin scored on a six yard touchdown run to close the gap to 16-13 after a 75 yard drive from Sweden’s 25 yard line. But Sweden got no closer than Finland’s 32 yard line and could not generate much offense after that.

Finland’s Aappo Saloranta was the game’s leading receiver with 108 yards on four catches. Finnish quarterback Kadmiry was 14 of 34 for 172 yards. Top Swedish receiver was Fredrik Isaksson who caught five passes for 103 yards.

Post-Game Press Conference:

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Next up for Sweden is the heavily favored Germans on Tuesday June 3rd. After Germany’s 47-7 pasting of Finland on the tournament’s opening day, beating the Germans is more than a tall order for the Swedes, who won the European championships in 2005.

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.