Örebro Black Knights save season with amazing 2nd half rally; Anatomy of a comeback

The Örebro Black Knights (1-2) have finally entered the win column in Sweden’s Superseries, but they did not make it easy on themselves in beating the 2-2 Stockholm Mean Machines 29-26 last Friday in Örebro .

Trailing 20-6 at halftime and in danger of falling to 0-3, the Black Knights staged a second half rally for the ages. And they truly needed it.

Had they remained winless, it would have been a very rough road to climb back up in the tight five-team league.

Head coach Aaron Fiddler:

“I knew full well the implications for us. I was a little nervous going into the game. We would only run about two thirds of the offense what with all the new players and Raleigh’s injury.”

Stockholm had played well in the first half and seemed to have things going their way. An Emil Knutsson fumble on the Örebro goalline was scooped up by his teammate Sander who scored the game’s first touchdown. Then, after Eric Murphy scored for the Black Knights,  Stockholm’s brilliant receiver Matt Retzlaff got behind the secondary and raced 60 yards for Stockholm’s second touchdown. Hermodsson added a third for the Mean Machines who led 20-6 at that point.

Örebro’s veteran corner Johan Stål who led his team with eight tackles:

“Strangely, when we had a touchdown called back right before the half when Raleigh was called for crossing the line of scrimmage before throwing the pass, it gave us hope. We knew we could move the ball and we took that into the locker room.”

One of the keys may well have been when  defensive coordinator Erik Törnblom pulled his pads off and coached the second half from the sideline.

Also, according to Fiddler,  at halftime, he told the defense to keep playing the way they were. Although Stockholm had scored three touchdowns, he felt the Mean Machines had simply been playing extremely well and it was not strictly the fault of the defense. He had a few choice words for the offense though:

“We knew we  could run inside on them and we simply had to stay with our blocking assignments. I did something I never do. I blew up at the offense about it.”

Photo: Jonas Domfors

Although it did not produce immediate results, Fiddler’s tirade finally had an effect. On Orebro’s second possession of the third quarter, after the defense had gotten a huge stop, the offensive line did block the way he wanted. Stockholm had held onto the ball for seven minutes without scoring and the Black Knights offense took four plays in just under a minute to score, as Yeldell threw a 47 yard touchdown pass to Tomas Jacobssen and suddenly with the two-point conversion the game was only 20-14.

Now the Mean Machines offense could not get untracked and Örebro began to march. With Jens Biteus in his first game back  at running back after three years running between the tackles and Yeldell throwing Örebro marched again, this time on a four minute drive with Johannes Lindeus finishing it off with a touchdown.

The Black Knights had now take the lead for the first time in the game. On the next series, Hermodsson watched as a pass was partially deflected at the line of scrimmage and Orebro’s Felix Jarvela caught it in mid air giving the Black Knights the ball back. Yeldell made Stockholm pay, eating up another three minutes and finding Karl Lind for a 44 yard touchdown. Eric Murphy scored on the two-point conversion and then the defense did the rest.

A last second 49 yard field goal attempt by Stockholm to tie the game fell far short.

Needless to say, Fiddler was happy:

“I cannot say enough about this team. They came together right when they had to. Raleigh was playing hurt and could not run. But players made plays when we needed them.”

Stål emphasized how important this win was:

“I know it was obviously important for the standings but it was just as important for us to come together as a team. We could have hung our heads after being down in the first half and after losing two in a row. But we didn’t. Everyone dug deep. These are the kinds of games you live to play. It was a great win.”

By the numbers

Yeldell threw for 272 yards and three touchdowns and most importantly did not throw an interception. Young wide receiver Johannes Lindeus had another huge game for the Black Knights and led all receivers with 127 yards receiving and one touchdown. Tomas Jacobsen had 78 yards receiving and a touchdown while Karl Lind recorded one touchdown on 44 yards receiving. Jens Biteus contributed with 87 yards rushing.

For the Mean Machines, Anders Hermodsson completed 18 of 29 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another but had two passes intercepted. Running back Emil Knutsson added 118 yards rushing. Matt Retzlaff had another excellent day receiving with 103 yards and a touchdown while Knutsson added another touchdown on an eight yard pass from Hermodsson.

Next up for Örebro are the Göteborg Marvels May 5. Stockholm has a bye this week.



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