Kuopio Steelers continue Maple League dominance, beat Seinäjoki Crocodiles for 3rd straight Maple Bowl title

The unbeaten Kuopio Steelers completed the perfect triple as they defeated a stubborn Seinäjoki Crocodiles squad 21-14 in Maple Bowl XLIII to capture the Finnish championship for the third straight year in a game that was far closer than anyone could have predicted.

Heading into the game Kuopio and Seinäjoki were ranked as the top two rushing offenses with running back Le’Anthony Reasnover leading the charge for the #1 ranked Steelers while Christian Powell was the top rusher for the number #2 ranked Crocodiles.

The Steelers tried attacking the secondary of the Crocodiles early on but quickly went three-and-out on their opening drive. Seinäjoki did not capitalize on the opening drive as much as they wanted to. Still, they were able to get close enough for kicker Eetu Mäki-Maunus to drill a 34-yard field goal to give the Crocodiles the early 3-0 lead.

Kuopio Steelers RB Le ‘Anthony Reasnover scored the winning TD on an 80 KO return with less than two minutes left Photo: Jari Turunen

This minor setback didn’t make the Steelers budge. After what looked like a failed onside kick attempt from the Crocodiles, Kuopio was left with good field position. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Steelers quarterback Joey Bradley was able to find Hannes Harju for a 40-yard receiving touchdown to give Kuopio the lead, 7-3

After a few stalled drives from each team, the Steelers were able to put something together, taking the ball down into the redzone. Kuopio then extended their lead to 14-3 after Bradley threw a ball to the goal line from 10 yards out and Jani Lindqvist was able to do the rest, taking it in for the score.

Not much was seen for the rest of the half, but the Crocs were able to get within one score as Mäki-Maunus kicked another field goal, putting the score at 14-6 headed into halftime.

Steelers QB Joey Bradley letting loose Photo: Jari Turunen

After a scoreless third period, one of the big-name running backs was finally able to make their presence known in the game as Christian Powell of the Crocodiles thundered his way through would be tacklers to score a 37-yard rushing touchdown to narrow the lead to 14-12. Two attempts at a two-point conversion as the result of a penalty, paid off with Crocodiles quarterback Zachary Whitehead finding Kasper Harju, tying the score

With less than two minutes left in the game and the teams knotted up 14-14, the league’s best player, Le’Anthony Reasnover, decided to take matters into his own hands. After Seinäjoki made the mistake on the ensuing kickoff of kicking it right to Reasnover, he made them pay, returning the ball 80 yards for the go ahead touchdown, giving the Steelers a 21-14 lead they would not relinquish.

Seinäjoki Crocodiles RB Christian Powell rushed for 181 yards and 1 TD Photo: Jari Turunen

Whitehead was unable to move his team past midfield on the following possession and the Steelers took over with 30 seconds left and simply ran the clock out giving Kuopio their third consecutive title.

Although Christian Powell of the Crocs had an outstanding day, rushing for 181 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries, it was Reasnover, despite a poor rushing day, who was the deciding factor in the end.

In a game where both defenses played excellent football, Steelers linebacker Colby Campbell was named MVP of Maple Bowl XLIII after finishing the game with a 13.5 tackles.

Noah Costantino is a student and football player at Baldwin Wallace University in Cleveland, Ohio. Fueled by his love for the game he looks to continue his knowledge of football at an international level. He is majoring in Communications with a