Potent passing attack earns Oslo Vikings fifth straight Norwegian title

It took an extra year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Oslo Vikings are a top Norwegian football once again.

While their matchup with the Kristiansand Gladiators was originally slated to be the regular season finale, organizers agreed to do away with formalities and let the two top teams in the Eliteserien duke it out for national supremacy early. It was the four-time defending champion Vikings who seized the opportunity best, avenging a one-point loss earlier in the year with a 34-14 drubbing of their new-found rivals to claim their fifth straight title.

Initially, it was the Gladiators who looked posed for a repeat victory. A fantastic return by Frederik Fjeldseth set the Vikings up with great field position to begin the game and quarterback Jesber Johnsen got them the rest of the way down to the goalline, but the Gladiators battened down the hatches and his fourth down pass went off the helmet of his left tackle for a turnover on downs.

The Kristiansand offense delivered with full value for the defensive stand. Swede Axel Alenius got the team out of the shadow of their endzone with a 42-yard pass to Erlend Lien, but it wouldn’t be he who delivered the scoring blow. Instead, the Gladiators turned to trickery, as running back Raymond Myhrer took the hand-off later in the drive and cocked the ball back to deliver a 35-yard strike to Lien down the sideline for the opening touchdown.

The Gladiators unsuccessfully tried the early onside kick and it didn’t take Oslo long to put together a response. Johnsen marched the half field and found Fjeldseth on a 12-yard post to begin the second quarter with a tying score. There was soon more in store, as Fredrik Schønberg-Moe forced a Kristiansand punt with a big sack and Eivind Rølles gave his team great field position on the return. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Johnsen went 25 yards to Fjeldseth again and the receiver won the jump ball, keeping his balance just long enough to lunge into the endzone.  Johnsen followed it up with a 15-yard touchdown scramble of his own on the very next drive and Oslo was up 21-7 after three unanswered.

Gaute Darre Gunleiksrud would chip in an interception for the Vikings later in the frame, but the Gladiators held firm and finally with a chance to gain some momentum before the half. Given new life by a roughing the punter penalty, Alenius answered with a timely 41-yard bomb to Marlon Hylton, but Jacob Ribert recovered just in time to drag the receiver down a yard short of the pylon and time expired as Kristianstand desperately sprinted to the line.

They would carry some of that fire into the second half with a great opening drive, but Simen Leikanger missed a 37-yard field goal attempt and starting quarterback Axel Alenius was not heard from again after that series. A play after the miss, Johnsen heaved deep for Fjeldseth once again, finding him in behind coverage for an 80-yard score and his third touchdown of the night.

The teams traded fumbles after that, but when a marching Vikings team failed to convert on fourth down in Kristiansand territory, the Gladiators finally struck. With Raymond Myhrer now under center, Erlend Lien hauled in a deep ball and carried several defenders for a 70-yard gain. A few plays later, he opened the fourth quarter with a contested 12-yard touchdown catch to make it a two score game.

The momentum shift would not last however, as Oslo answered back with a big drive on the ground and Vegard Tysse scampered in from seven yards out finish. Another strong Myhrer led drive wouldn’t matter as German Linus Baumbusch effectively iced the game with an endzone interception, given the Vikings their 34-14 victory.

The decisive victory means that Vikings head coach Derek Mann has never finished a season without hoisting a national championship trophy, winning every one since 2016. That equals the incredible five in a row run by the Vålerenga Trolls in the mid-1990s and places the Vikings even further ahead of their rivals with a record of 14 all-time Norwegian titles.


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.