Kuopio Steelers led by Tino Ndongo put on fireworks display, hammer Helsinki Wolverines

Behind a five touchdown performance from wideout Tino Ndongo, the Kuopio Steelers simply demolished the visiting Helsinki Wolverines in a shocking win Saturday as Finland’s Maple League wound up its third weekend of play.

The Helsinki defensive secondary had no answer for the elusive Steelers wide receiver as time and again Ndongo made touchdown receptions look easy. He had seven catches for 180 yards and five touchdowns and scored four touchdowns on six catches in the first half alone.

Needless to say, Ndongo was pretty happy after the game:

“We played an excellent game both sides of the ball and everybody was having fun and this is the outcome of it. We’ve had a whole week of good spirited practices and are focused on having fun on the field.”

For a game between two evenly matched opponents, the stats were stunning. Kuopio ran up 508 yards of offense including 398 in the air compared to the Wolverines 107 yards of total offense. In fact, Helsinki had -17 yards rushing. The Steelers’ front seven was was definitely on its game.

Kuopio Steelers QB Seth Peters Photo: Jari Turunen

The offense matched the defense.

Behind excellent protection from his offensive line, Kupio quarterback Seth Peters completed 21 of 28 passes for 366 yards and seven touchdowns. Another one of his favorite targets on this day was Canadian receiver Josh Vandeweerd who hauled in nine passes for 92 yards and one touchdown. Vandeweerd also stepped in at quarterback late in the game completing 3 of 4 passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. Jakko Paananen had four catches for 63 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Lamar Carswell had a quiet game with only 10 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown. His backup Perttu Pajunen also scored.

For the Wolverines, this was a game to forget. Completely. Quarterback Chris Forcier had a dismal day completing just four of 13 passes for 68 yards and the team’s sole touchdown. He was also picked off once. His backup Rasmus Laalo hit on three of his seven pass attempts and tossed two interceptions. Wide receiver Sebastien Sagne caught two passes for 82 yards and the only Wolverines touchdown while the other four receivers combined for a total of 42 yards between them.

Defensive lineman Ville Valasti was frustrated to say the least:

“To be honest, we played a crappy game today. We were not focused and lost all of our dynamics and just didn’t get it going today. Next Thursday we come back with a new game plan against the Butchers.”

Kuopio Steelers WR Josh Vandeweerd Photo: Jari Turunen

Kuopio opened the game scoring three times in the first quarter with Dnongo catching two from 36 and 40 yards out and Vandeweerd the other, a 41 yard touchdown reception. Early on, Forcier had found Sagne for a 45 yard score but that was the last of the scoring for Helsinki as the Steelers took a 19-6 lead going into the second quarter. The fact that they missed two extra points had little bearing on the outcome on this day.

The onslaught continued in the second quarter as Forcier struggled while Peters, with plenty of time in the pocket, picked apart the Wolverines secondary. After Carswell scored on a 14 yard scamper, Ndongo added two more touchdowns. In between, Kuopio picked up a two-point safety after an errant punt snap went over the head of Helsinki punter Aleksi Pukkinen’s head and through the end zone.

The Steelers led 42-6 at the half but with no mercy rule in Finland’s Maple League, the slaughter did not end in the second half.

Steelers inebackers Semmi Radji #3, AJ Wentland #35 and defensive lineman Mattias Kauppinen #92 Photo: Jari Turunen

Peters found Paananen for both his touchdowns in the third quarter upping the lead to 56-6 as Helsinki turned the ball over twice, on a Forcier interception and a fumble by running back El Ouacef , both of which led to Paananen’s touchdowns.

Rasmus Laalo came in to replace Forcier early in the third after the interception but fared no better.

With Vandeweerd in at quarterback in place of Peters to start the third, the Kuopio offense did not seem to miss a beat. They added two more touchdowns as Ndongo caught his fifth touchdown pass of the game from Vandeweerd and then Pajunen bulled his way in from the three to wind up the scoring.

With the win, Kuopio (3-0) moves into a tie for first place with the Wasa Royals (3-0), while the Wolverines drop to 1-2 just ahead of the Seinäjoki Crocodiles (1-2) and Helsinki Roosters (1-2).

Next up for the Wolverines is an away game against the winless Porvoon Butchers on August 20. The Steelers are also on the road next weekend when they take on the Crocodiles August 22.



Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.