Seven the lucky number, as Örebro Black Knights claim first Swedish title in club history

They say the third time is a charm, but there is just something a little special about the number seven.

From Ancient Egyptians to the Pythagoreans, Old Testament Christians to the Taoist Chinese, human cultures throughout time and across the world have viewed the number seven as a symbol of luck and good fortune. Streaming onto the field in their golden top hats in front of 3,000 hometown fans to collect the first Swedish championship in club history on Saturday, the Örebro Black Knights were simply the latest to benefit.

Six times they had appeared in the title game since their founding in 1989. Six times they lost. On their seventh appearance, an aggressive second half game plan ensured nothing would stand in their way as they rolled through the Stockholm Mean Machines by a score of 28-14.

It was once again the formidable passing offense conceived by head coach Sam Eisenstadt and offensive coordinator Johan Stål that shone when it mattered most. Quarterback Trevor Vasey earned the MVP, completing 17 0f 34 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and a pick, while adding 51 yards and a score on the ground, to overcome some early jitters for a commanding win.

Black Knights WR Johannes Lindeus caught 8 passes for 149 yards and 2 TDs Photo: Jonas Domfors

It was Stockholm that initially looked like the better team and receiver-turned-quarterback Matthew Retzlaff showed off his impressive shiftiness on the team’s first drive to get inside the ten. The Black Knights held firm and his arm wasn’t as effective as his legs, overthrowing Dario Dobrolevski in the endzone on fourth down to keep the game scoreless.

Örebro looked ready to respond after Vasey found Johannes Lindeus behind coverage for 37 yards, but their offense stalled just outside the redzone. Retzlaff took over by spinning off two would-be tacklers and bulldozing another for a 20-yard gain that sparked a 12-play, 77-yard drive. He capped it by making good with Dobrolevski, connecting with the Austrian for an easy 12-yard score.

A Deniel John interception ended Vasey’s attempt at a response on the next drive, but Stockholm failed to gain traction and the ball was quickly back in the big quarterback’s hands. A personal foul gave them a quick first down and it didn’t take much to get that passing offense cooking. Johannes Lindeus took advantage of a big cushion with some quick outs to pick up one first down, then burst past Omar Fall and got the ball right where he needed it for a 25-yard touchdown.

Örebro entered the half down one after the extra point clanged off the upright but wouldn’t mess around after the break, shocking the Mean Machines with a short opening kickoff that was fielded poorly and recovered by Joel Isacsson. Vasey got it started with a 19-yard run and Stockholm linebacker Nikolas Knoblauch kept the drive alive with a hit to the head of Gustav Skeppner that got him ejected. That allowed Vasey a chance to make Alexander Eshagi bite on the option and he trotted in for a nine-yard touchdown, with Jimmy Palmborg adding the two-point conversion to make it 14-7.

Stockholm QB/WR Matt Retzlaff was outstanding in defeat. He ran for 114 yards and threw for 89 and 1 TD Photo: Jonas Domfors

Behind for the first time, the Mean Machines did not wilt under the pressure. Dobrolevski picked up 31 on a bubble screen and Retzlaff found Robin Galvin-Miranda for 27, setting up Timmy Goransson for a six-yard score right up the gut, but the momentum would be short-lived. On a second and 28, Vasey found Hjalmar Gertsson free on a short post and the young receiver out-raced everyone for a 71-yard touchdown, retaking a lead that would not be relinquished.

Stockholm began to struggle and a questionable call in the fourth quarter would spell their demise. On a short run, Retzlaff reached for more yardage and Sebastian Nilsson ripped loose the ball just after the runner put his knee to the ground. It was ruled a fumble and Örebro took four minutes off the clock before Vasey aired it out to a wide open Johannes Lindeus for one final 41-yard score.

Down two touchdowns and desperate for a spark, Stockholm tried Dario Dobrolevski at quarterback but his deep shot was intercepted by Jacob Wesslen. From there, Kasper Wedberg ate up the remaining clock until a roughing the kicker penalty with 50 seconds left sealed the 28-14 win and brought out the celebratory golden hats.

Forced under center for the playoffs after an injury to starter Brett Hunchak, Retzlaff got the consolation prize as the Mean Machines’ MVP. He rushed 20 times for 114 yards, while going nine of 12 through the air for 89 yards and a touchdown. Dario Dobrolevski was the top target with seven catches for 54 yards and the score, while Alexander Lilja led the defence with three sacks.

Black Knights celebrating first ever Swedish title Photo: Jonas Domfors

That wasn’t enough to overcome Vasey’s aerial output and the Mean Machines secondary proved too slow for his impressive crew of receivers. Johannes Lindeus was far and away the standout, posting eight catches for 149 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but Hjalmar Gertsson’s lone 71-yarder was the game-winner, just his fourth catch of the season. Defensively, Rikard Carlsson held the fort with eight tackles.

While seven proved to be the lucky one for the Black Knights, the only number that mattered to those celebrating on the field is one. One win, one title and one trophy to call their own. In due time, they’ll shift their attention to number two, but not before the champagne has dried.

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.