Wasa Royals edge Hämeenlinna Huskies, advance to Maple Bowl in Finland

The Wasa Royals came from behind twice Saturday and  took the first step towards the Finnish championship by defeating the Hämeenlinna Huskies 17-14 Saturday at Kaarlenkentta  stadium in Vaasa, Finland.

The two top offensive teams in the league found themselves in a tight defensive battle and could only amass 490 yards of offense between them as the defenses took center stage.

Royals quarterback Justin Sottilare, the league’s leading passer during the regular season, was under pressure the entire game and completed 15 of 27 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown and ran one in himself. His leading receiver, RJ Long, who also topped the league in receiving yardage, was held to 59 yards receiving. The only touchdown reception came from Joakim Jakobsson. Tom Suoste led the team in rushing  with 35 yards.

Hämeenlinna quarterback Stan Bedwell, the second leading quarterback in Finland’s Maple League, threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns and led his team in rushing with 36 yards. Roman Runner and Tommi Pinta caught touchdown passes while the Huskies defense forced a safety to account for the rest of the scoring.

The Huskies opened the scoring on a Bedwell-to-Runner 37 yard touchdown pass following the safety to take an 8-0 lead. Wasa responded with an eight play, 61 yard drive with Sottilare carrying the ball in from two yards out to cap it and draw close, 8-7.

With defenses dominating, late in the second quarter first Sottilare was picked off and then on the ensuing series Bedwell was too. The Royals capitalized though, kicking a 43 yard field goal to give Wasa a 10-8 lead at the half.

Neither team could find the end zone in the third but the Huskies came closest as Bedwell drove them down to the Royals six yard line before stalling on a fourth down.

Bedwell then led his team on seven play, 35 yard drive, finishing with a five yard touchdown pass to Pinta to give the Huskies a 14-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Royals answered on the next possession as Sottilare mounted an 80 yard drive of his own, finishing it with a four yard touchdown pass to Jakobsson, to give Wasa the lead for good, 17-14.

Bedwell was not done, marching the Huskies down to the Wasa 25 yard line, but could advance no further and Sottilare and the Royals ran out the clock and Wasa moved on to the Maple Bowl for the first time ever.



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