Finland: Helsinki Roosters down Hämeenlinna Huskies, grab stranglehold on first

The Helsinki Roosters scored 27 second half points to pull away from the Hämeenlinna Huskies, beating them 48-24 Monday night, to virtually secure first place in Finland’s Maple League.

With two games remaining, the Roosters are now the favorites to capture top spot in the league. To overtake them, their closest rivals, the Wasa Royals are would have to win their three remaining games (which is likely) and then hope that Helsinki loses their last two games, which is unlikely. A tie in the standings would favor Helsinki who hold a 13 point advantage in the two games the teams split between them.

Helsinki quarterback Brandon Connette threw for 220 yards and three touchdowns and scored a rushing touchdown. Wide receiver Alexander Wasiljeff recorded seven catches for 56 yards and a touchdown and Timothy Thomas added another receiving touchdown. Running back Karri Pajarinen rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown and the league’s leading rusher, Jaycen Taylor recorded 51 yards rushing and a touchdown. Defensive back Curtis Slater scored on an interception return.

Stan Bedwell, head coach and quarterback for the Huskies completed 19 of 29 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns, but threw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a score. Jusko Alakoski led the Huskies with 64 yards rushing and a touchdown while Niko Lester added another receiving touchdown. Belgian national team running back Arkadi Meerschout rushed for 38 yards and a touchdown.

Helsinki Roosters RB Jaycen Taylor scored a TD Photo: Salla Lahti

After an even first quarter the Roosters finally scored on a Jaycen Taylor 11 yard run.

And then the floodgates opened.

The two teams combined for 26 points in the final 15 minutes of the first half as Connette connected with Miko Kadmiry for a 15 yard touchdown reception and then Curtis Slater returned an interception 34 yards to give Helsinki a 21-0 lead.

Bedwell responded with a 15 yard touchdown pass to Lester and then following an interception of a  errant Connette pass, Meerschout scored from the two yard line. Hämeenlinna failed on two two-point convert attempts and the score at halftime was 21-12 for Helsinki.

Bedwell led the Huskies on a 60 yard, eight play drive to open the second half finishing with a one yard touchdown plunge. Following another missed two-point conversion Hämeenlinna had crept closer, 21-18.

Helsinki DB Curtis Slater returning an interception for a TD Photo: Salla Lahti

Connette kicked the Roosters into a higher gear engineering scoring drives on the next two Helsinki possessions, carrying the ball in himself to cap one and throwing to Thomas extend the lead to 34-18.

The Huskies came back again, as Bedwell capped a six play, 65 yard drive with a touchdown pass to Alakoski to bring Hämeenlinna to within two scores, 34-24.

However, Connette had the Roosters offense playing well and marched down the field with Pajarinen finding a hole over left guard and sprinting 31 yards to extend the lead again to 41-24. Then Helsinki capitalized on another turnover as Bedwell fumbled on his own 21 yard line. Three plays later, Wasiljeff scored on a four yard pass reception to increase the lead to 48-24.

The Helsinki defense then held off the Huskies for the win.

 

 

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