Stockholm Mean Machines top Carlstad Crusaders, former QB in Swedish season-opener

The grass is always greener on the other side, but for Tim Morovick a different uniform provided exactly the same result.

The dual-threat import quarterback last took the field as a member of the Stockholm Mean Machines in their 14-12 loss to the Carlstad Crusaders in the 2020 Swedish championship. In Saturday’s season-opening rematch, he was sporting Crusader red and black for the first time but found himself once again on the losing end, falling to the Mean Machines 26-22 despite a strong individual outing.

It was Morovick’s replacement in the Swedish capital, Canadian quarterback Brett Hunchak, who made the first splash, introducing himself to the Stockholm faithful with a 46-yard bomb on his first throw to Matthew Retzlaff. Running back Timmy Göransson finished off the drive by following a perfect double team for a ten-yard touchdown, making it 6-0 after a missed point after.

Stockholm WR Matts Retzlaff #5 weaving his way through traffic Photo: Stefan Akander

Not to be out done, Morovick took advantage of a strong return from Darius Lewis and unleashed a missile of his own, dropping it 52 yards into the outstretched hands of Theodor Landström. It took four attempts to travel the remaining four yards to the endzone but Morovick carried it in himself, taking the lead with the extra point attempt.

The early offensive flurry continued and it didn’t take the Mean Machines long to strike back. Retzlaff put them near mid-field with a 44-yard return and the one-two punch of Hunchak through the air and Göransson on the ground went to work. Both provided first downs and Anton Blomgren made a nice back-shoulder catch to take a 12-7 lead with a 29-yard score.

It took until mid-way through the second quarter for the Crusaders to get rolling again, putting together an eight play, 86-yard drive. Morovick got it started with an 18-yard scramble, veteran defensive back Darius Lewis got in on offence with a 20-yard run, and Jacob Bergwall capped it by high-pointing the goal line fade and keeping a toe in bounds for a 6-yard touchdown.

Up 14-12, the wheels fell off for the Crusaders early in the third. After failing to generate traction on their first drive of the second half, the long snap bounced off the hands of punter Strahinja Stepovic and was recovered by Omar Fall in prime field position. Matthew Retzlaff hauled in a 20-yard touchdown throw from Hunchak over the struggling Stepovic and Stockholm was back on top despite a failed two-point attempt.

Stockholm RB Timmy Göransson #30 finds the end zone Photo: Stefan Akander

Things immediately got worse for Carlstad. On the first play of the next drive, receiver Marcus Johnson had the ball popped from his grasp by the helmet of Axel Sarberg and Ludwig Myren recovered before it ever hit the ground. Timmy Goransson got it going with two hard runs, before Adam Westin busted through for a 15-yard rushing touchdown, while Per Lindelöf hauled in the two-point conversion to make it 26-14.

Morovick came out slinging in response but the usually reliable Jacob Bergwall let a near certain touchdown slip through his hands on the deep throw. The Crusaders battled down the field regardless but Ben Prasopsin and Omar Fall provided crucial pass break ups in scoring position and Alexander Kress batted down the fourth down pass at the line to force a turnover early in the final frame.

Carlstad soon had the ball back and Morovick marched down the field once again, this time delivering on the promise of the last drive with a 17-yard touchdown strike to Bergwall. The quarterback ran in the two-point conversion himself to make it a four-point game, but the result was out of his hands once Robin Prevolnik recovered the Crusaders‘ short kick.

Carlstad QB Tim Morovick #7 avoiding Stockholm LB Robin Prevolnik #41 Photo: Stefan Akander

With two minutes remaining, Morovick could only watch as Göransson ground down the middle of the Carlstad defense, slipping through Emil Jansson’s grasps for an important first down. Retzlaff delivered the final nail in the coffin with a wide receiver screen and Stockholm knelt to secure the 26-22 victory.

Against his former teammates, the quarterback completed 18 of 29 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, while adding 32 yards and a score on the ground. Jacob Bergwall hauled in eight of those passes for 87 yards and both scores, while Theodor Landström had three receptions for 90 yards. Darius Lewis added 177 all-purpose yards and 2.5 tackles, Alex Gudding had four and a sack, while Strahinja Stepovic and Emil Jansson tied for the team lead with 5.5 tackles each.

For Stockholm, Matthew Retzlaff was the weapon of choice, bringing in seven catches for 113 yards and a score. Brett Hunchak was an efficient 12 of 15 for 170 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while Timmy Göransson carried 21 times for 119 yards and a score. Nikolas Knoblauch was a force defensively with eight tackles and 2.5 for loss, Omar Fall was close behind with seven, and Alexander Kress got home for 1.5 sacks.

The victory for the Mean Machines is an important one, providing a distinct seeding advantage over their chief rival Carlstad in the shortened three-game Swedish regular season. While nothing is guaranteed for either team, Morovick and the Crusaders will hope their revenge comes at the sweetest possible time, the Swedish championship on July 9.

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.