Finland: Porvoo Butchers hang on to defeat Helsinki Wolverines, earn first win in two years

Finland’s Maple League kicked off this past weekend with an upset right out of the gate as last season’s worst team, the Porvoo Butchers knocked off 2020 finalists, the Helsinki Wolverines 14-6.

It was the Butchers first win since 2019 and it only came after a last-minute comeback by the Wolverines fell short on a Cedric Johnson incomplete pass in the Butchers’ end zone.

The game started as a classic battle between two tough defenses and the first quarter ended scoreless. In the second quarter, the Butchers pinned the Wolverines deep in their own territory on a punt while playing for field position. Befitting the defensive struggle, the first score came from the Butchers defense when Defensive end Ville Kurvinen intercepted a Johnson screen pass in the end zone with 7:49 left in the half resulting in a touchdown. The extra point by Mikko Seppänen made the score 7-0.

The Wolverines responded however and got their offense rolling. Breon Allen broke loose for an impressive 46-yard touchdown run with 1:46 left in the first half to pull the Wolverines within 7-6. The Butchers defense responded again however and Jere Paananen blocked Juuso Alakoski’s extra point attempt to hold onto the lead for the Butchers. Jabari Harris responded, marching the Butchers down inside the Wolverines 10-yard line, but a bad snap put the Butchers out of field goal range and leaving the score 7-6 going into halftime. The third quarter resulted in more sustained defense by both teams and neither squad was able to break through with any points.

Wolverines RB Breon Allen battling for yardage Photo: Irja Vaateri


Throughout the game, both offenses mounted good drives but as fitting for an opening season game, mistakes halted many of them. Mistakes and penalties hurt the Butchers while turnovers plagued the Wolverines. The fourth quarter finally saw the Wolverines mount a sustained seven play drive, going 87 yards. It looked as if the Wolverines would take the lead until Jere Paananen caused a fumble on a Cedric Johnson rush at the 1-yard line which was recovered by Niko Roiko to once again save the Butchers lead.

Harris had a 59-yard run for the Butchers to the Wolverines 40-yard line but once again the drive stalled. After punting the ball back to the Wolverine,s again the Butchers D came up with a critical interception by Toni Nyström at the Wolverines 25-yard line. Porvoo’s offense finally finished a drive when Seam McAllen scored on a 12-yard run to make the score 13-6. Seppänen converted the extra point again to extend the lead to 14-6 with 2:20 left to go in the game.

The Wolverines were not ready to give up though as Johnson drove his team down to the Butchers 29-yard line which included a completion to Allen. However, with the Wolverines knocking on the door with a chance to score and possibly tie the game with a 2-point conversion, the Butchers pass defense stepped up forcing four straight incompletions including the 4th and 10 attempt to Niko Katonen in the right corner of the end zone with 1.6 seconds left in the game.

Johnson ended the game with 67 yards passing on 8 of 26 attempts and had two interceptions including one for a touchdown. Harris led the Butchers with 14 of 25 passing for 97 yards and one interception. Allen was the leading rusher in the game with 135 yards on 14 carries while Harris led the Butchers with 12 carries for 76 yards and McAllen added 63 yards on 16 carries. Porvoo outgained the Wolverines 237-211 in total yardage reflecting the close nature of the game and the defensive battle. The Butchers won the turnover battle 4-1 which helped them to earn the hard-fought victory in front of their home crowd in Porvoo.

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