Team Sweden captures gold at 2018 Noridc U19 Championships

Team Sweden captured the gold medal at the 2018 Nordic U19 Championships by defeating the defending champions, Finland 27-12 at Kristianstad Arena in Kristianstad, Sweden.

With the victory, Sweden has now won the Nordic title seven times while Finland has taken home the championship five times. Finland had broken Sweden’s streak of five straight titles two years ago.

The tournament has been held every other year since 1997.

The Swedes jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first half and with touchdowns from offense, defense and special teams, held off a determined Finland in the second half to secure the win.

Swedish running back Jonathan Gustafsson was named MVP and rightly so with 145 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Gustafsson accounted for virtually all of Sweden’s 189 yards of offense.

Team Finland quarterback Jere Byman completed seven of 18 passes for 101 yards while also rushing for 20 yards and two touchdowns. August Wahlstein threw for another 52 yards.

Sweden opened the scoring on their first possession with Gustafsson capping a seven play, 50 yard drive, punching the ball in from the two yard line to give the Swedes a 7-0 lead.

Neither team could take advantage of great defensive play as both offenses were stymied through the rest of the first quarter. A blocked punt gave Sweden the ball at the Finnish 24 yard line but the Swedes could not capitalize. Then Finland picked off Swedish quarterback Samuel Jämthammar returning the ball to the Swedish 10 yard line. Team Sweden’s defense held, thwarting a fourth and goal from the four yard line.

Two plays later Gustafsson plunged a dagger into the hearts of the Finns, finding a seam and bursting through, racing 91 yards for a touchdown, giving Sweden a 14-0 lead.

The Swedish defense stepped up again on the next series as defensive back Alexander Nordgren picked off Finnish quarterback Jere Byman and returned the ball 74 yards for a pick six, extending the lead to 21-0 with five minutes left in the half.

However, with just over two minutes remaining in the first half, Byman engineered a brilliant six play, 65 yard drive, finishing it off by taking the ball in himself from the eight yard line with 26 seconds on the clock and reducing Sweden’s lead to 21-6.

The third quarter started well for the Finns as the defense got the stop they needed and the offense stepped up again. Byman marched his team down to the Swedish 26 yard line and again called his own number, scrambling for a touchdown and giving his team momentum, closing to gap to 21-12 with plenty of time left in the game.

But, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Swedish defender Alexander Nordgren blocked a Finnish punt at Finland’s 20 yard line and Victor Blombäck scooped up the ball and rumbled 20 yards for the touchdown.

With Sweden holding a 27-12 fourth quarter lead, the Finns marched down inside the Swedish red zone twice in the fourth quarter with August Wahlstein in at quarterback. But they came no closer and Sweden began celebrating a true team victory.


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