The Stockholm Mean Machines (5-0) continued their march to what they are hoping will be their third straight Swedish title Saturday when they downed a surprisingly stubborn Uppsala 86ers (0-5) team 34-14.
With the win, and the Carlstad Crusaders loss to the Orebro Black Knights, the Mean Machines have secured first place going into the playoffs, not matter the outcome of the final game of the season against Carlstad.
Stockholm running back Zishan Kazi stole the show on this day rushing for 93 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries and igniting the offense. Quarterback Tim Morovick continued to look sharp throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns on 23 of 32 passing. Alpha Jalloh made his presence known immediately after his return following a season in Finland, leading all receivers with seven receptions for 80 yards and two touchdowns and generally creating havoc in the Uppsala secondary. Pär Lindelöf had five for 73 and a touchdown while Ben von Jagow caught four passes for 44 yards. Timmy Göransson carried the ball seven times for 50 yards and Morovick seven for 43 and a score.
For Uppsala, this was a big step forward offensively with Victor Ekberg looking solid at quarterback completing 16 of 32 passes for 182 yards and a touchdown. Mattias Gauthier had three receptions for 76 yards and the touchdown while Oscar Nevermann had five for 39 yards and Joshua Akena four for 37. Akena scored the lone rushing touchdowns while Nevermann had two carries for 41 yards and Johannes Nilsson eight for 35.
Stockholm took a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter after both teams traded punches, with the Uppsala offense looking more consistent than it has all year. Morovick marched the Mean Machines 80 yards in 11 plays finding Jalloh for a two yard touchdown.
An errant deep pass by Ekberg two plays later was picked off by Stockholm defensive back Denny John who returned it to the Uppsala 45. Morovick made them pay driving Stockholm to the one yard line and then carrying the ball in himself to take a 14-0 lead.
Ekberg responded for Uppsala, engineering his own long drive, 72 yards in 14 plays, finishing it by handing off to Akena for a four yard touchdown and the gap was narrowed to 14-7 . The drive consumed almost seven and a half minutes, leaving Morovick and the Mean Machines offense just over two and a half minutes to work with before the end of the first half. Morovick was up to the task, firing passes to Ben von Jagow and Alpha Jalloh, taking his team down to the 86ers 14 yard line. One play later he hit Jalloh with a 10 yard scoring pass and the lead was increased to 21-7.
The third quarter saw neither team able to reach the red zone but early in the fourth Morovick took his team on another patented scoring drive, 72 yards in eight plays, connecting with Lindelöf from 18 yards out to increase the lead to 27-7 as the usually reliable Robin Gavelin Miranda missed the extra point.
With just over eight minutes left in the game, Uppsala forced a fumble by Kazi and Ekberg turned the tables on the Mean Machines. Two plays later he found a streaking Gauthier for a 53 yard pass and catch and suddenly the 86ers were within two scores, 27-14 with seven minutes remaining.
However, a failed fourth down on their own 30 yard line spelled doom for a feisty Uppsala squad. Stockholm took advantage with Kazi, making up for his earlier fumble by bursting up the middle for two runs, 14 and 15 yards and then scoring form a yard out to boost the lead to 34-14 with under two minutes left in the game.
Uppsala’s final possession took them to the Stockholm 32 yard line as time ran out.
Although it wasn’t always pretty, the Mean Machines came away with a convincing win. Still Uppsala made a statement in this game with the playoffs looming.