Photographs: Tommy Andersson
The Tyresö Royal Crowns remain undefeated in Sweden as they knocked off five time champion and Champions League champions the Carlstad Crusaders in a stunning 34-30 victory before a packed crowd at Carlstad’s home stadium, Tingvalla IP, on a perfect Saturday afternoon for football.
The boisterous fans were treated to an action-packed game that lived up to its hype as Tyresö quarterback Colby Kirkegaard scored a touchdown with less than two minutes left in the contest and watched as Philip Minja then picked off Carlstad’s quarterback Anders Hermodsson to seal the win with just over a minute to go. These two teams were as evenly matched as they could be with six lead changes.
Kirkegaard was superb in the win completing 39 of 60 passes for 418 yards and four touchdowns and running another one in himself.
Tyresö’s defense held Carlstad running back Brett Koepp to just 52 yards rushing nullifying the vaunted Crusader ground game. Nevertheless, Hermodsson threw for 372 yards and four touchdowns himself.
It was a seesaw battle from the opening whistle as Tyresö took an early 6-0 first quarter lead on Colby Kirkegaard 69 yard pass to Pär Lindelöf. Carlstad ‘s Harry Routledge took over in the second quarter scoring two spectacular touchdowns on passes from Hermodsson to give the Crusaders a 14-6 lead with under two minutes left. But Tyresö displayed an ominous resilience as Andrew Preston scored just 17 seconds before the half on a 22 yard pass from Kirkegaard to close the gap to 14-13.
The third quarter saw both teams struggle on offense before Kirkegaard threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to Daniel Nässelkvist and Tyres regained the lead with five minutes left in the period 19-14. Carlstad’s Josef Nguzo returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to give Carlstad excellent field position and Hermodsson wasted no time guiding the offense to the Royal Crowns’ 24 yard yard line before finding Nguzo in the end zone giving them back the lead 22-19.
Then the fireworks started in the fourth quarter as Andrew Preston scored his second touchdown of the afternoon and Tyresö converted the two pointer giving them a 27-22 lead halfway through the stanza. But two minutes later, Harry Routledge proved how valuable he is to the Crusaders scoring his third touchdown of the game on a 12 yard pass from Hermodsson and then adding the two-point convert as Carlstad regained the lead again 30-27.
Then the final dramatics began as Tyresö scored with two minutes left in the game as Kirkegaard called his own number running in from eight yards out.
As the Crusaders mounted another furious comeback driving deep into Royal Crowns territory in the space of 40 seconds, Tyresö’s Philip Minja picked off Hermodsson’s pass intended for Routledge at the Tyresö 20 yard line and the Royal Crowns ran out the clock for the thrilling win.
Tyresö quarterback Colby Kirkegaard was flawless on this day and was named game MVP while safety Andrew Preston scored two touchdowns for the Royal Crowns and constantly disrupted the Carlstad offense recording six tackles. Carlstad receiver Jacob Dahre caught eight passes for 171 yards.
This was the first time Carlstad has lost to a Swedish team in two years and it was their first loss of the season. With the win Tyreso takes over sole possession of first place in the Swedish standings as Carlstad drops into second with one game remaining for both teams.