The Kuopio Steelers made a huge statement Thursday night in Finland’s Maple League, and sent shock waves through the Finnish football world by beating the defending champion Helsinki Roosters 57-41.
This was the first time the Roosters have lost to a Finnish team since July 22, 2017 when the Wasa Royals beat them 27-24. Kuopio had lost all three games to the Roosters in 2018, including the championship game, by a combined score of 155-69.
The game marked a major shift in football in Finland this season.
Defense was definitely not the name of the game in this one.
Steelers QB Seth Peters threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another while running back Gerard Johnson had an outstanding day running the ball rushing for 130 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver Tino Ndongo caught two touchdown passes while Jaakko Paananen caught the other.
For Helsinki, Miro Kadmiry threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for one more. Adam Connette had a sparkling game catching seven passes for 103 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 83 yards and another score. Alexander Wasiljeff hauled in four passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Nnamdi Agude added another touchdown reception.
The Steelers shocked Helsinki jumping out to a 19-7 lead after the first quarter as Peters and Johnson were tough for the Roosters defense to contend with as each scored a touchdown while Peters connected with Paananen for the third. Although Kadmiry countered with a touchdown throw to Wasiljeff, the Steelers had already sent a message.
Helsinki closed the gap to 31-27 by halftime after Kuopio had burst out to a 31-13 lead. Connette’s versatility was on disply as he scored both a receiving a rushing touchdown to help bring Helsinki back into the game.
That was it though.
The Steelers defense made some key halftime adjustments holding Helsinki to just four third quarter first downs in the crucial third quarter while picking off Kadmiry once and forcing a critical Connette fumble both of which they converted into touchdowns.
By the end of the third quarter, Kuopio had taken a commanding 47-27 lead which they increased to 54-27 when Johnson scored just minutes into the final quarter. Although Helsinki managed to score twice in the fourth on touchdowns by Wasiljeff and Agude, the Steelers controlled the clock while kicking a field goal with less than two minutes left to seal the win.