Kuopio Steelers score 37 third quarter points in overwhelming Seinäjoki Crocodiles

Last Thursday evening, the Kuopio Steelers (7-2) and Seinäjoki Crocodiles (3-5) staged a game for the ages in Finland’s Maple League. The Steelers scored 37 third quarter points to beat Seinäjoki 85-55 in one of the highest scoring games in Maple League history.

Kuopio scored 64 points in the second half alone.

Trailing 35-21 at the half, the Steelers exploded for 37 points in the third quarter, holding Seinäjoki to just six and then added another 27 in the fourth.

Kuopio quarterback Seth Peters was obviously pleased with his team, and relates how their off season paved the way for such a huge win:

“It was a really fun game. 64 points in one half! I think it was a testament to the condition we are in. Hard work all. Off season allowed us to take over that game in the second half. Great offensive game and some big time plays of defense when we needed them.”

The Steelers had beaten Seinäjoki two weeks before by a modest 33-28 score. Peters had no explanation for the fireworks in this game.

“I am not really not sure what happened. In both games we were missing three key players to the [junior] national team games. Thankfully we will get those guys back for this week. But no, other than missing those guys, it was same lineup for us. Nothing was different.”

Peters threw for  288 yards and five touchdowns while Tino Ndongo caught 10 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns and Vilpponen added 53 yards and a touchdown with Vaisanen catching the other touchdown pass. Gerard Johnson rushed for 120 yards and four touchdowns while Peters had 10 carries for 123 yards and a score. Defensive back Tommy Kaczocha added a pick six for good measure.

For the Crocodiles, Jonathan Baker was no slouch, throwing for 395 yards and five touchdowns with Stéphane Fortes his main target with eight catches for 223 yards and three touchdowns. Patrick McKoy-Wilson caught two passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns while running back Christian Powell also had a monster game with 30 carries for 217 yards and three touchdowns.

Baker was not overly disappointed in the loss and was able to pull some positives out of it:

“We had a near perfect first half. Put long drives together and converted some big third downs. Unfortunately we lost a few possessions in that second half and that’s all a great Steelers offense needed to pull away. We felt good about our execution and how we put up points for all four quarters. Especially against a top defense in the league. Just wasn’t enough at the end. But definitely gives us confidence for the rest of the season that we can move the ball against anyone.”

The first quarter was a precursor of things to come as the teams combined for 42 points ending in a 21-21 tied heading into the second quarter. Defenses seemed to be an afterthought with Johnson and Ndongo scoring for Kuopio and McKoy-Wilson and Powell for the Crocodiles.

The second quarter was all Crocodiles. Seinäjoki scored two with Fortes and Powell adding a touchdown apiece while the Crocodiles defense kept Kuopio off the scoreboard.

The Crocodiles scored to open the third quarter with Powell roaring out with a 68 yard touchdown run, upping the lead to 41-21.

A blocked two-point and a score off of it was the catalyst for a Steelers remarkable comeback. Donovan Hayden picked up the ball and sprinted  all the way back to narrow the lead to 41-23.

That opened the flood gates.

On the Steelers first series following that, Ndongo raced for a 57 yard major and then Kaczocha picked off a Baker pass and returned it 100 yards for another touchdown and suddenly the lead was down to 41-37.  Suddenly, the Crocodiles offense was sputtering and the home team took its first lead of the game soon after as Juho Väisänen hauled in a scoring pass from Peters to extend it to 44-37.

Kuopi scored four more times in the third producing a 72-41 lead early in the fourth. While the Steelers cruised in the fourth adding two more scores, Seinäjoki added two more themselves.

The Steelers return to action on August 8 when they face the 2-6 Wasa Royals while Seinäjoki takes on the Porvoo Butchers August 8.

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