Kuopio Steelers clinch first in dominating win over Wasa Royals

The Kuopio Steelers returned to the win column this week in dominating fashion as they literally dismantled the Wasa Royals in the final round of the Finnish Maple League 2020 season, beating them 55-30.

The score is a little misleading as the Steelers had built up a 48-9 lead to start the fourth quarter and were never in danger of allowing the game to get close.

Kuopio quarterback Seth Peters was efficient completing 18 of 29 passes for 259 yards and six touchdowns. He distributed the ball well among his key receivers with newly-arrived Saskatchewan Roughriders receiver Max Zimmermann catching seven passes for 93 yards and three touchdowns with Tino Ndongo hauling in six for 92 yards and another three touchdowns. Josh Vandeweerd had three catches for 52 yards while running back Lamar Carswell had a 19 yard reception. Carswell, always a threat, had 69 yards rushing scoring two touchdowns. Linebacker AJ Wentland led all defenders with 10 tackles and a sack while teammate Kadel King recorded 8.5

For the Royals, Alpha Jalloh rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns but 181 yards of that came in the last 15 minutes of the game starting when the score was already 48-9. Quarterback Brandon Gwinner had a dismal day throwing for just 76 yards while rushing for -11 before leaving the game early in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury. Tom Suoste battled his way to 73 yards and one touchdown on 20 carries. Jalloh had 59 yards receiving on four receptions with Suotse the second leading receiver with two catches for 17 yards.

Steelers defense with AJ Wentland (35), Kadel King (8) and Artur Trigueiros (93) corralling Alpha Jalloh Photo: Jari Turunen

It was that kind of a day for the Royals.

The Steelers scored on their first four possessions with Tino Ndongo opening the scoring with a 15 yard reception from Peters and then on the next Kuopio drive Carswell simply raced outside and took off on a 39 yard touchdown run. He then punctuated a 47 yard drive to end the first quarter with a one yard run to make the score 21-0 going into the second.

A terrible punt early in the second, gave the Steelers the ball on the Royals 35 and two plays later, Peters hit Zimmermann for a 35 yard touchdown to boost the lead to 28-0. By that point, Wasa’s offense had not advanced past their own 42 and had two drives end on the five and 12 yard lines.

Gwinner finally got the Royals offense untracked, marching them on a 12 play, 63 yard drive from their own 33 down to the Kuopio four. But it stalled there and Wasa was forced to settle for a field goal to make it 28-3.

Peters engineered another patented Steelers drive, taking his team from his own 34 down to the Wasa 16 and then connected with Ndongo to up the score to 35-3 to end the half.

Wasa came out with a scoring drive to open the third quarter keeping the ball on the ground, throwing only twice on a 13 play drive, with Suotse capping it by battering his way into the end zone from 20 yards out, to reduce the lead to 35-9.

The Steelers offense scored twice more though in the third quarter with Peters finding both Ndongo and Zimmermann for scoring passes of 33 and two yards respectively, thanks in part to the incredible field position the defense was giving them.

Steelers QB Seth Peters Photo: Jari Turunen

The teams entered the fourth quarter with Kuopio leading 48-9 when Jalloh, no doubt simmering all game long, became a man possessed. On the 15 play, 80 yard drive to open the final period he had nine carries totaling 59 yards, scoring the touchdown on an eight yard run to reduce the lead to 48-16.

Zimmermann scored his third touchdown of the game to make it 55-16 before Jalloh weaved his way through traffic, breaking tackles to score on a 43 yard run to again cut into the lead, 55-23 with less than two minutes left.

With Kuopio now playing with a number of backups on the final drive, Jalloh ripped off two more long runs, one for 35 and the next 37 to score the game’s final touchdown with six seconds left.

With the win, the Steelers secured first place with a 4-1 record and will now face the Seinäjoki Crocodiles on September 4 in the semifinals. Wasa ended up second with a 3-2 record and will take on the 3-2 Helsinki Wolverines, on the same day.



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