Finland: Kuopio Steelers dominate Helsinki Wolverines in a defensive performance for the ages

By Jordan Meneo

The Kuopio Steelers visited the Helsinki Wolverines this past weekend in Finland’s Maple League and came away with a hard-fought 15-0 win in a game that neither defense will soon forget.

Physical and intense are two words that immediately come to mind.

The two teams, who both won their season openers in blowout fashion, clashed in the nation’s capital in a physical low scoring game. Each team’s first three drives ended in either a punt or turnover on downs providing a scoreless first quarter. It wasn’t until midway through the second quarter when fans were provided with some action. On their first play of the drive, William Young coughed up the football which was recovered by the Steelers. Kuopio took full advantage by turning the fumble into a touchdown thanks to an eight-yard touchdown run by Tuuka Lehtonen.

The half ended with Helsinki gaining a total of zero net yards.

During the third quarter, it was much of the same as neither time scored. In the fourth quarter, this Steelers defense displayed its dominance, swarming Wolverines quarterback Jabari Harris into walking out the back of his own endzone for a safety. Kuopio followed that up with a drive that ended with tight end Iiro-Pekka Paakki hauling in a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joey Bradley giving the Steelers a 15-0 lead with six minutes to go that they would hold for the rest of the game.

The Wolverines‘ defense didn’t play a particularly bad game; the problem was that their offense took the day off. Helsinki walked off the field with a total of 26 offensive yards, over 200 less than their opponent. The defensive performance by Kuopio is one of the most dominant seen in any many a year. A week earlier, the Wolverines had racked up 370 yards in a 45-6 rout of the United Newland Crusaders.

With that considered, it’s no surprise that Steelers defensive lineman Ikeem Allen was chosen as the Most Valuable Player of the game. The former University of Miami (NCAA D1) player bulldozed his way through the Wolverines‘ offensive line finishing with six tackles and two sacks for a loss of 10 yards. Another honorable mention went to Kuopio running back Le’anthony Reasnover. The Maple League’s second leading rusher in 2021 finished with 86 yards on the ground and 15 in the air.

The Steelers will look to get their third win in a row Sunday as they’re set to square off against the Seinäjoki Crocodiles. The Wolverines are going to need short-term memory as they prepare for Sunday’s match against the Kotka Eagles.





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