Sweden: Stockholm Mean Machines earn 2nd straight win, defeat Tyresö Royal Crowns

The Stockholm Mean Machines turned to running back Oliwer Stedt Wednesday night in Stockholm in a rare mid-week Swedish Superserien game, and the young athlete responded, scoring two fourth quarter touchdowns to break open a 20-20 tie and give the Mean Machines their second consecutive win to open the season.

Stedt was on fire on this night especially late in the game, rushing for 168 of Stockholm’s 190 yards on the ground, and 160 of that in the second half. Quarterback Mark Pappas completed 12 of 23 passes for 167 yards and three touchdowns with Matt Retzlaff catching half of those passes, six for 88 yards and two scores. Omar Fall caught four passes for 30 yards and a touchdown.

For Tyresö, the offense ground to a halt in the fourth quarter when they needed it the most, unable to move the ball beyond the 32-yard line. On the night, quarterback Philip Juhlin threw for a mere 45 yards on 3 of 10 passing as it was the Royal Crowns rushing attack that kept them in the game. Running back Emil Knutsson rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown while teammate Carl Lundberg carried the ball 11 times for 65 yards and another score. Juhlin rushed for 50 yards on 12 carries but was sacked twice.

Still, it was the Royal Crowns who opened the game with promise as only two minutes into the game, linebacker Malcolm Engström recovered a blocked punt at the Stockholm 22-yard line and rumbled into the end zone to give his team an early 7-0 lead.

Then, Pappas went to work, engineering a five play, 64-yard drive, which included a 38-yard pass to Retzlaff, capping it with a five-yard touchdown pass to Omar Fall, to even the score at 7-7.

Stockholm WR Matt Retzlaff making one of his two touchdown catches Photo: Stefan Akander

Four minutes later, Juhlin answered, marching the Royal Crowns from their own 19-yard line down to the Stockholm 31. Knutsson then found a seam and broke free to score the go-ahead touchdown. The six-play, 81-yard drive featured not a single passing play as Tyresö offensive coordinator Phil Juhlin simply relied on his offensive line and the legs of Knutsson, Lundberg as well as his own.

Pappas responded, mixing his plays up and fashioning his own scoring drive, taking six plays, moving from his own 35-yard line down to Tyresö’s eight-yard line. He then connected with Retzlaff to tie the score again, this time at 14-14.

Despite a 45-yard kickoff return from Dovydas Koncevicius, Juhlin was unable to get the Royal Crowns offense moving and turned the ball over on downs at the Stockholm 36-yard line. Pappas hit Retzlaff for a 22-yard gain and then four plays later found Retzlaff again, this time for a six-yard touchdown reception, giving the Mean Machines a 20-14 lead with six and a half minutes remaining in the first half.

Juhlin then mounted a beautiful 13-play, 65-yard drive, eating up the entire 6:38. The only problem is that it came to a standstill one play too early, leaving the Royal Crowns stranded on the Stockholm one yard line as time ran out.

The Tyresö defense did its part to open the second half, stopping Stockholm on the 44-yard line although not before Stedt had begun to display his true form, rushing twice for 31 yards. It was a portent of things to come.

On the next drive, Juhlin and the Tyresö offense made no mistake. Again, relying mostly on the ground game, they marched 90 yards in just over five minutes. With Lundberg and Knutsson carrying most of the load, the Royal Crowns bulled their way down to the Stockholm 12-yard line. Knutsson then barreled his way in to again tie the score, 20-20.

Tyresö QB Phil Juhlin rushed for 50 yards Photo: Stefan Akander

That’s when Stedt began to really find his form. On the next Stockholm drive he carried the ball on six of the 13 plays rushing for a total of 44 yards. Although the drive finished with a missed field goal attempt from the eight-yard line, Stedt still had more to deliver.

With the Tyresö offense unable to move the ball, the Mean Machines got the ball back on their own 41. Pappas simply handed off to Stedt twice in a row and the back scored a 29-yard touchdown to give Stockholm a 27-20 lead with six minutes left in the game.

After that, Mean Machines defense shut down Juhlin and company the rest of the way while Pappas continued to give the ball to Stedt for nine of the next 12 Stockholm plays. With under a minute left, Stedt scored again from eight yards out, giving the Mean Machines a 34-20 victory.

With the win, Stockholm takes the early lead in the standings and occupies sole possession of first place in the Superserien. The league continues Easter Sunday as the Carlstad Crusaders open their 2022 season on the road against the Örebro Black Knights.






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