Helsinki Roosters dominate Wasa Royals to capture Maple Bowl XXXVIII, win 6th straight Finnish title

The Helsinki Roosters captured their sixth consecutive Finnish title and 20th overall beating the Wasa Royals 37-9 in Maple Bowl XXXVIII Saturday night.

Paced by running back Jaycen Taylor who rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns, the Roosters took a 21-9 halftime lead and then let their defense hold the Royals scoreless in the second half to cruise to the victory.

Quarterback Brandon Connette only had to throw for 121 yards on 11 of 12 passing as Helsinki racked up 235 yards rushing and scored all five touchdowns on the ground. Besides Taylor, backfield teammate Karri Pajarinen  also scored a touchdown as did Connette. Ville Rontu added a field goal and four PATs.

Roosters RB Jayben Taylor scored 3 TDs. Photo: Jari Turunen

The league’s leading passer, Royals quarterback Justin Sottilare, had a miserable night facing relentless pressure and was held to just  183 yards passing and zero touchdowns while throwing four interceptions. Chris Young scored the lone Wasa touchdown while the Royals defense forced a safety for the other two points.

The Roosters did not open the game well though surrendering a safety on the opening drive. But the defense stepped up, picking off Sottilare on the following series at the Royals 34 yard line. Taylor scored on a 23 yard run three plays later to give Helsinki a 7-2 lead. After a missed Royals field goal, Connette marched Helsinki 76 yards in six plays, helped by a Bernard Luster 42 yard gain and Pajarinen  scored to extend the lead to 14-2.

Sottilare and the Royals responded though on the next series driving 76 yards with Young capping the drive with a two yard touchdown to pull closer, 14-9.

That was as close as it got.

Roosters QB Brandon Connette Photo: Jari Turunen

Connette and the Roosters offense ate up almost five minutes on the next possession with Connette taking the ball in from a yard out to extend the lead to 21-9. Another Sottilare interception finished the Royals in the first half with the Roosters holding a 21-9 lead.

With Helsinki’s defense recording another interception and then forcing Sottilare to fumble, the game took a definite turn. Playing a ball control offense, the Roosters scored again on a Jaycen Taylor 42 yard run and the third quarter ended 27-9.

Sottilare threw his fourth interception early in the fourth quarter and Curtis Slater returned it to the Royals five yard line. Taylor scored his third touchdown and Helsinki added to the lead, 34-9.

Wasa could not get past their own 45 yard line the rest of the game and Rontu added a 42 yard field goal following another Royals turnover, this time on downs and Helsinki’s defense did the rest.




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