Moscow Patriots are Russian Champions Once Again

Moscow beats the Astrakhan Gladiators to win 2014 Russian championship


The Moscow Patriots regained the Russian American football title by beating the Astrakhan Gladiators 27-12 last weekend in Moscow. Although the end result was somewhat predictable, the game itself matched all the expectations of the season finale. Despite having to travel 1,400 km overnight to play in the game, Astrakhan showed that they didn’t come to Moscow to be pushed around, and put up quite a fight.

The game started rather slowly, as both teams kept it on the ground in order to get into a rhythm. However, it was a “strength vs strength” match-up on both sides of the ball, which resulted in teams exchanging several three-and-outs to start the game. That forced them to open up as early as in the first quarter, with the Patriots finding the end zone first to cap off a 93-yard drive most of which they covered through the air. After the ensuing Gladiators possession didn’t go very far, their defense stepped up and forced a fumble on the Patriots half of the field, which they were managed to convert into a score several tough rushes later.

Moscow Patriots QB set to throw

Moscow quarterback Igor Chernolutsky gets set to throw

The guests were not able to establish any kind of momentum after that, as the Patriots speedy defensive back Viktor But took the ensuing kickoff to the house to keep his team up by a touchdown. The semifinals MVP didn’t stop there, as he also made an interception on the Astrakhan next drive to stop it just as they started to threaten. Through the end of the half, the Gladiators kept moving the ball down the field with a relative success, but didn’t manage to score again. At the start of the second half, the Patriots extended their lead to 27:6 by continuing to cut through the opposing defense with short and medium range passes.

Moscow Patriots - Viktor But3

Viktor But on his way to the end zone

Towards the end of the game, Astrakhan was able to figure out Moscow and were able to find success with some adjustments. First, they started to get to the quarterback consistently, recording several sacks on quarterback Igor Chernolutsky as well as an interception in their own red zone, as the Patriots offense gradually dried out. Later on, they started executing their passing game with more precision, including several fourth down conversions en route to another score. However, that was too little to late, as they still fell with the final score of 27-12 after dominating in the end.

The Patriots regained the title that they had lost last year to the Moscow Black Storm and the one that they felt was theirs to lose from the very start of this season. However, nobody expected their road to the title to be as tough as it ended up being, culminating with the dramatic playoffs that showed that the level of competition in the Russian Championship became higher than it has ever been.

After being involved in bringing American football to his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia, Ilya would go on to play in the Japanese X-League, helping his side Tokyo Bullseyes advance all the way to the top tier of the league and become the only