Kuopio Steelers derail resurgence of Porvoo Butchers with blowout win

The Porvoo Butchers have been having a magical 2021 season, but it would have taken the combined powers of Merlin, Harry Potter and Gandalf the Grey to slow down the Kuopio Steelers on Saturday.

The undefeated defending Finnish champions remained unblemished, both in the standings and on the scoreboard. The Steelers steamrolled the third-ranked Butchers by a commanding score of 51-0, dominating offensively while pitching the defensive shutout.

A talented Kuopio secondary took away all options from Butchers‘ quarterback Jabari Harris, holding him to 12 of 20 passing for just 61 yards and an interception. Running back Sean McAllen managed 53 yards on the ground, but a pair of sacks each from Ikeem Allen and Semmie Radji meant Porvoo managed only 68 yards net offense compared to 451 from the conquering Steelers.

A 38-yard scamper from Le’Anthony Reasnover on the Steelers opening drive was the first taste of what was to come, but Jeff Alexandre dropped a surefire touchdown on the next play and Kuopio settled for a short Markus Ojainvali field goal. After a quick Porvoo three and out, the Steelers finished the job. Tuuka Lehtonen rattled off a pair of big first down runs to set the team up and Joey Bradley drilled it into Isaak Marshall on the slant for a 15-yard score.

Kuopio Steelers QB Joey Bradley looking downfield Photo: Jari Turunen

The Butchers finally managed to generate their first first down early in the second quarter, but there was no offensive awakening on the way. The Steelers were just beginning to round into form, however. This time it was receiver Hannes Harju who fueled the offense, turning a dump off in the flat into a 28-yard gain before getting wide open on a 17-yard touchdown fade. All the Butchers could manage in response was a fumbled snap on a three-and-out punt, allowing Harju to catch two more balls and get back in the endzone minutes later to take a 24-0 lead.

A pair of big gains from Reasnover, with an unnecessary roughness penalty tacked on to boot, added another Ojainvali field goal before the half, but Bradley opened the third quarter with an interception by Timi Nuikka. It wouldn’t matter, as the defense held firm to force a punt and Frenchman Adel Bafdile spun off first contact on the return and reversed to the wide side. He ran 59-yards to paydirt to get the Steelers back on track and Ojainvali would add another field goal late in the quarter to extend the lead.

The Steelers just kept churning out yardage going into the fourth quarter. Bradley led an 11-play, 50-yard drive and linebacker Maurice Wright Jr. punched in another touchdown out of the wildcat formation to finish. The two teams coasted through the remainder, with Markus Ojainvali trotting in a late pick-six to ice the 51-0 shutout victory.

Porvoo Butchers QB Jabari Harris on the run Photo: Jari Turunen

As usual, the Steelers were driven by their ground game and Le’Anthony Reasnover finished with 19 carries for 169 yards. Tuuka Lehtonen added 10 rushes for 69 yards of his own, but neither had a touchdown as Joey Bradley did the job through the air. The quarterback was 15 of 27 for 195 yards through the air, with three touchdowns and an interception. Hannes Harju was the top target, making six catches for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

Maurice Wright Jr had 5.5 tackles on defense to pair with a three-yard rushing score, but the most varied night went to Markus Ojainvali. The placekicker was perfect on three field goals and five extra points before adding a pick-six on defense, producing 20 of Kuopio’s 51 total points.

The loss slows the almost magical resurgence by the Butchers this season under head coach Jim Nendel, but it is Pekka Utriainen’s Steelers who look almost supernatural. They sit all alone atop the Maple League standings through seven weeks and appear to be peaking at the right time to defend their 2020 title.

J.C. Abbott is a student at the University of British Columbia and amateur football coach in Vancouver, Canada. A CFL writer for 3DownNation, his love of travel has been the root of his fascination with the global game.