Wasa Royals come away with key win over Helsinki Wolverines

The Wasa Royals took advantage of their opportunities last night in Helsinki, Finland, and downed the Helsinki Wolverines 36-26 in Maple League second round action.

Royals quarterback Brandon Gwinner was outstanding throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for another 111 and three scores. His favorite target, by far, was Alpha Jalloh who caught nine passes for 216 yards and both passing touchdowns. Nicholas Peterson had five receptions for 39 yards while Mahamed Hersi had one catch for 15 yards and Nico Barrow one for 13. Tom Suoste had 14 carries for 80 yards while Barrow carried the ball eight times for 36 yards.

For the Wolverines, it was a tough night with starting quarterback Chris Forcier forced to leave the game early with a foot injury. He did return to start the fourth quarter with Helsinki trailing 28-13 and immediately had an impact tossing a 52 yard touchdown pass to Cedric Johnson. On the night, in a quarter and a half of action, he completed seven of 13 for 149 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 67 yards and another two scores. His replacement, young Ramus Laalo was five of 14 for 39 yards. Johnson caught six passes for 132 yards and a touchdown while Sebastian Sagne had two catches for 29 yards and Micky Kyei two for 12. Running back Jonatan El Quacef has 14 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown.

Wasa Royals RB Nico Barrow Photo: Irja Vaateri

The Wolverines opened the scoring after being gifted the ball at Wasa’s 20 yard line following a fourth and nine that went backwards. Forcier made no mistake four plays later, carrying the ball in from the 10 to give the Royals a 7-0 lead.

Neither team was able to gain any offensive momentum until early in the second quarter when the Royals offense took over in good field position at the Wolverines 42. Gwinner marched the team down to the two yard line and connected with Jalloh for a touchdown to close the gap to 7-6.

Then with El Quacef carrying most of the load, Laalo took his team from his own 21 down to the Royals three yard line. Fittingly, El Quacef bulled his way in to increase the lead to 13-6.

Gwinner then took charge, engineering a nine play, 80 yard drive completing passes to Barrow, Peterson and Jalloh before battling his way into the end zone from the three to narrow the lead to 13-12 at the end of the first half.

The third quarter saw Gwinner lead the Royals on another efficient drive, this time marching to the Royals 48 before finding Jalloh for a touchdown pass putting Wasa out in front for the first time, 20-13.

With Helsinki unable to move the ball, Gwinner took Wasa on a beautiful,13 play, 89 yard drive, eating up over seven minutes on the clock and culminating with Gwinner scrambling six yards into the end zone, extending the lead to 28-13 after the two-point conversion to end the third quarter.

Helsinki Wolverines WR Sebastian Sagne Photo: Irja Vaateri

With his team now behind by more than two scores, Forcier returned to the game and immediately hit Johnson for a 52 yard score to bring his team closer, 28-20.

Gwinner responded though, mixing his play calling up and hitting Jalloh for a big 28 yard gain down to the Wolverines nine. From there he took the ball in himself to boost the lead to 36-20 with five minutes left.

Forcier would not give up, moving Helsinki 54 yards in six plays and then scrambling into the end zone from 16 yards out to reduce the lead to 36-26.

A Gwinner fumble on the Wolverines 20 gave Helsinki another chance with 3:49 left in the game. Forcier marched the Wolverines down to the Wasa two yard line, but a miscommunication in the back field resulted in a fumble and the Royals took over and kneeled the game out.

With the win, the Royals move to 2-0 and sole possession of first place while Helsinki drops to 1-1 and a share of second place.

Next up for the Royals are the Seinäjoki Crocodiles on August 14 while Helsinki takes on the Kuopio Steelers on August 15.

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