Finland: Kuopio Steelers stay undefeated after shootout victory over Helsinki Roosters

The Kuopio Steelers found themselves in a rare pitted battle Friday in a Finnish Maple League game with the Helsinki Roosters but used a second-half surge to overcome a six-point halftime deficit and go on to defeat the home team Roosters 35-32.

Behind the power running and receiving of running back LeAnthony Reasnover, the Steelers kept pace with Helsinki for the first two quarters before taking the game over in the third stanza, pulling ahead 28-18 and 35-32, and then withstanding a late Roosters comeback, for the win.

Reasnover was seemingly unstoppable on this night accounting for 386 all-purpose yards, rushing for 194 yards and two touchdowns while catching four passes for 122 yards and a third score and returning three kickoffs for 70 yards. Steelers quarterback Joey Bradley completed 11 of 23 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown with Jeff Alexandre hauling in three passes for 25 and Hannes Harju two for 66. Tuukka Lehtonen rushed for 36 yards as well.

For Helsinki, quarterback Miro Kadmiry threw for 319 yards and five touchdowns on 18 of 39 passing with Rashad Still catching seven of those passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns. Micky Kyei caught six passes for 72 yards and the other two Roosters‘ touchdowns. Running back Andrecus Lindley led Helsinki on the ground with 12 carries for 84 yards.

The teams traded punches to open the game with Helsinki striking first on Still’s initial touchdown, a nine-yard scoring pass from Kadmiry. The missed PAT gave the Roosters a 6-0 lead. The Steelers responded, however, with Bradley finding Harju for a 65 yard gain down to the three, and then Reasnover weaving his way through traffic into the end zone to give Kuopio a 7-6 lead.

It took until late in the period for Helsinki to score again with Kadmiry finding a streaking Still for a 41-yard score after the lanky wide receiver ran over a Steelers‘ defender en route to the end zone, restoring the lead for the Roosters, 12-7. The two-point attempt failed which would prove ominous.

Helsinki Roosters WR Rashad Still #12 scored 3 TDs Photo: Jarmo Vehkomäki

Kuopio went out in front again early in the second quarter as Reasnover simply took a toss left, beat the outside defender to the sideline, and then outran everyone, going 90 yards for the score to make it 14-12.

Two possessions later, Kadmiry answered, engineering an eight-play, 48-yard drive, capping it with a three-yard touchdown pass to Kyei to give Helsinki an 18-12 lead after another two-point attempt failed.

The Steelers opened the second half by picking off Kadmiry, and Bradley went to work, marching his team 58 yards in six plays. A handoff to Maurice Wright from the one resulted in the go-ahead touchdown giving Kuopio a lead, 21-18, which they would never relinquish.

With the Kuopio defense now playing excellent football, Bradley and the offense had the ball again two minutes later. Three plays after that, Bradley floated a pass to Reasnover who simply outran the defense for a 75-yard score, extending the lead to 28-18.

Kadmiry answered on the next Roosters possession though after Helsinki returner Lorenzo Melichore returned the kickoff 53 yards to the Steelers 40 yard line. The Roosters quarterback finished off a seven-play drive with a 13-yard scoring pass to Kyei to bring his team closer, 28-25.

Bradley then mounted a magnificent, 16 play, seven-minute drive, marching the Steelers from their own 39 down to the Helsinki four-yard line. Wright scored his second touchdown of the game to restore Kuopio’s 10 point lead, 35-25.

It took Helsinki just one play after the kickoff to respond as Kadmiry found a streaking Still down the sideline for a 66-yard touchdown to narrow the gap to 35-32.

The Roosters defense then dug in, holding off Kuopio and forcing a turnover on downs with just under two minutes left. But the Steelers defense then returned the favor, and Kadmiry and the Helsinki offense ended up stranded on the Steelers 20 yard line as time ran out.

With the win, Kuopio remain unbeaten and in first place in the Maple League with a record of 6-0 with two games left on their schedule. The Roosters are in second at 4-1.

American Football International is your source for news and updates about American Football outside the United States!