RB Christian Powell powers Seinäjoki Crocodiles to physical win over Kuopio Steelers

The Seinäjoki Crocodiles improved their record to 2-2 Saturday in Finland’s Maple League, edging the 3-1 Kuopio Steelers 14-7 in a defensive battle.

Although he didn’t score, Crocodiles bruising running back Christian Powell was a major factor in the win, bulling his way to 109 yards rushing, pounding out valuable yards when Seinäjoki most needed them, especially in the second half.

Seinäjoki quarterback Spencer Cutlan only threw for 56 yards and one touchdown with Nate Robitaille catching two passes for 17 yards, one of which was the touchdown pass. Cutlan accounted for the other Crocodiles touchdown, on a one yard run. In fact, Seinäjoki’s offense only generated 218 yards in total.

Kuopio’s offense also faced a stiff defense, totaling 210 yards with quarterback Seth Peters throwing for 176 of those yards and one touchdown. Running back Lamar Carswell caught the lone touchdown pass from Cutlan, a 15 yard effort, and was held to only 33 yards rushing after entering the game as the league’s second leading rusher. Wide receiver Josh Vandeweerd caught eight passes for 76 yards while newly signed Max Zimmermann had eight receptions for 59 yards. Tino Ndongo, who caught five touchdown passes the week before, was held to just three catches for 21 yards.

Crocodiles WR Nate Robitaille hauling in the tying touchdown in the first half covered by Steelers DB Iiro Pekkarinen Photo: Marko Tuominen

In other words this was a game of defenses.

In the first quarter, the ferocious Steelers defense led by linebackers AJ Wentland, Kadel King and Semmi Radji did not let the vaunted Seinäjoki rushing attack get past their own 39 yard line. Meanwhile, Kuopio quarterback Seth Peters engineered a seven-play, 82 yard drive, capping it with a 15 yard scoring pass to Carswell late in the period to take a 7-0 lead.

It became a game of field position after that. The Kuopio offense stalled deep in their own territory and after a punt the Crocodiles took over on the Steelers 43 yard line. With Powell pounding the ball, Cutlan marched his team down to the Kuopio eight yard line and then hit Robitaille for the touchdown, tying the score at 7-7.

The score would stay tied until early in the fourth quarter as neither team could advance past midfield.

Finally, Cutlan and the Crocodiles offense found some chinks the the Steelers defensive armor. Starting from their own 37 yard line Cutlan took them down to the Steelers one, relying on Powell most of the way with a 21 yard completion to Veikka Lehtonen as a key play. Cutlan snuck in from the one and Seinäjoki went ahead 14-7 with just over six minutes left in the game.

Again both defenses held strong but the Steelers got the ball back at their own 45 yard line with just under two minutes left. Mixing up his pay calling, Peters moved Kuopio down to the Crocodiles 15 yard line, but no further, stalling on a fourth down with 20 seconds left.

With the win, Seinäjoki moves into a three-way tie for third with the Helsinki Roosters and Helsinki Wolverines with one game left. Next week, the Crocodiles take on the winless Porvoon Butchers. The loss drops Kuopio to 3-1 but still in first place, tied with the Wasa Royals but ahead by virtue of a better points for and against. Those two teams face each other next week in the final game of the regular season to decide first and second.

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