Reasnover runs wild as Kuopio Steelers stay undefeated against Seinäjoki Crocodiles

Running backs don’t matter.

If you’ve followed football at all over the last decade, it’s a phrase you’ve probably heard before. The belief, driven by data analytics, is that success at the running back position is driven largely by situation and that talent in the run game is unimportant. Centering an offense around your backfield, it is said, is rarely the way to victory.

I guess somebody should inform Le’anthony Reasnover.

The Kuopio Steelers star running back was nearly unstoppable on Saturday, driving his team to a 31-13 victory over the Seinäjoki Crocodiles. The native of Momence, Illinois carried 22 times for 249 yards and two touchdowns, sparking a run of 31 points unanswered that was impossible for his opponents to overcome.

While the ability to make big plays through the air is viewed as the way to counter a powerful rushing opponent, the Crocodiles foreshadowed just how that would work out on the first play from scrimmage. Quarterback Zach Greenlee threw deep and was picked by Adel Bafdile, but the Steeler settled for a 40-yard Markus Ojainvali field goal attempt that fell short.

Steelers LB Maurice Wright Jr #8 putting a stop to Crocodiles RB Christian Powell #15 Photo: Jari Turunen

Greenlee found more success on the next drive, connecting with Joel Sarkela for 40 yards, then drawing a pass interference call against Bafdile put the ball in the redzone. It looked like the Crocodiles wouldn’t get any further, but they opted to gamble on fourth and 11 from the 12, and running back Christian Powell flexed to the slot, hauling in a laser under the posts for the opening touchdown.

Kuopio got some bad luck on the ensuing series, as Joey Bradley’s screen pass deflected off the hands of Isaak Marshall and right to Nate Robitaille for the interception. Seinäjoki couldn’t repeat the fourth-down magic of their previous drive, however, and just like that, the Steelers took over to begin the second quarter.

Le’anthony Reasnover made a nasty jump cut against the grain and danced through the secondary for a 55-yard gain to get things started. A few short runs later, the Eureka College standout found himself in the slot but motioned back across to take the jet handoff five yards inside to tie the game. Kuopio settled for a 28-yard Ojainvali field goal on the next drive, but after another defensive stop, Reasnover struck again. Hitting a gaping hole up front, the running back raced 30 yards to pay dirt, shrugging off several pursuers and dragging Mikko Havulehto into the endzone to take a 17-7 lead into the half.

The Steelers didn’t slow down after the break. Bradley led an 11 play, 69-yard drive to open the half and import linebacker Maurice Wright Jr. took over in the wildcat to finish, powering six yards up the gut for a touchdown. It was the Kuopio defense who took over from there. Eeero Vaija pulled in an interception late in the third quarter and the Dutchman Semmie Radji made his presence felt early in the fourth, picking up a bad Seinäjoki snap and stiff-arming Zach Greenlee to run in a 20-yard defensive touchdown.

Crocodiles QB Zack Greenlee tossing the ball deep Photo: Jari Turunen

The Crocodiles finally got a spectacular spark of their own on the next drive. Benjamin Plu plucked a long jump ball out of the air over the head of his defender, then bulldozed the safety in behind to limp 74 yards down the sideline for a touchdown. Seinäjoki couldn’t add the two-point conversion, but a defensive stand got them the ball back with great field position. Unfortunately, Roni Laine broke up a fourth-down pass to Sarkela, holding off the late comeback.

From there, Kuopio needed only to run out the remaining five minutes and Reasnover was up to the task, securing the 31-13 win.

While the Steelers dazzled on the ground, Seinäjoki’s own star running back was less successful. Christian Powell carried 18 times for 61 yards but added a team-leading six catches for 27 yards and a score. Benjamin Plu had three catches for 92 yards and his own touchdown, as Zach Greenlee completed 14 of 31 passes for 183 yards, two touchdowns, and two picks. Jaska Varinen led the defense with 11.5 tackles.

In addition to Reasnover, Veikka Lehtonen added nine carries for 37 yards for Kuopio. Joey Bradley completed just eight of 15 passes for 83 yards and an interception, with Hannes Harju catching three passes for 27 yards. Semmie Radji notched two sacks to go with his defensive touchdown.

A dominant ground game might be going out of style, but the Steelers don’t mind being old school if it keeps them undefeated and atop the Finnish standings. Reasnover matters enough to do that.

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.