Monthly Archives: August 2014

Crocs 13 – 69ers 6

27 August 2014

Last Saturday the Crocs concluded the last game of a three-game home stretch by playing the Helsinki 69ers. This was the second time we faced off against that team having beat them 31 to zero on July 20th in the Velodrome. That game for the 69ers I believe was a low-point for their season as they really struggled. Their net offense against us was minus 19 yards. Since that game, however, the organization made some changes and had done a great job of turning things more to the positive side. The biggest change they made was adding Charles McCrea. I usually put up a link to top players that just sort of cover their bio but Charles is a special running back. He actually played for the Crocodiles in 2009. Here is a link to an interview with him that talks about his first European American football experience. Anyway, from the skills standpoint, Charles is fast and versatile. He can run the football and he can pass the football. Adding him alone made the 69ers a much better football team. Consequently, Head Coach Charlie was pretty clear about this 69er team being a totally different team now than the one we dominated back in July.

The game turned out to be a defensive battle and a struggle for us. It was not decided until the last 69er series in the fourth quarter. We did get the win though and that was the critical part for our push towards getting into the Maple Bowl on September 13th. As I wrote last week, the loss to the Butchers a couple games ago took control away from us regarding our shot at a number one seed in the playoffs. We now needed to win out and have some help from the Turku Trojans who face off against the Helsinki Roosters as their final home game. If the Trojans can defend their home field and beat the Roosters, then we will secure a number two seed and have a home semi-final playoff game. If the Roosters win or we somehow lose our final game next week against the Kouvola Indians we will be seeded third and have to play a semi-final game on the road. Below are the Maple League standings with all teams playing nine of the 10 regular season games.

poster standings1

The state of our roster was, as usual, shaken up a bit. This game we would be missing our big nose tackle Thomas Malagodi who was back in the UK to complete some school testing that he was not able to do remotely. In addition to that, we lost JP Hyvönen (another defensive linemen) to a rolled ankle. Finally, top that off with our Swedish defensive end Oskar Karlsson would be playing but was also nursing a rolled ankle from the week’s prior game against the Wolverines. The good news was we were seeing the return of Tobias Mäki one of our linebackers we lost early in the season to a broken bone in his hand. Tobi had been out for around six or seven weeks. Of course, we still did not have our two running backs that started the season with us. Both Mika Nissinen and VP Jaakonsaari were out due to a broken fibula and collar bone, respectively.

Kickoff was set for 4PM as usual and the weather was cloudy and a bit rainy. It had been raining quite a bit over the past couple of weeks with many days having lightning storms. We had even seen some good hail storms. The summer days were definitely gone and the temperatures and weather had moved firmly into what I guess would be called Fall here. I am not sure if they look at the year having four seasons. They could just have two seasons — cold and not-so-cold.

The introductions took place about 20 minutes before the coin toss. As usual, both teams line up facing the home stands. Because it is a home game, our players come through the giant inflatable crocodile in the corner of the playing field. Today, Juhani Koivumäki gave the photographers and team a little extra showmanship as he flipped through the teeth of the beast. We won the coin toss and elected to receive.

Juhani flip entrance captains

We lined up and the kick was away to our 18-yard line. Tachu Orue couldn’t field it and the ball rebounded off his leg and went out of bounds at the 20-yard line. Not the best special teams play. The offense managed nothing and were punting after three plays as the result of two incomplete passes and a short six-yard rush by Spencer Cutlan.

The defense took the field for the first time at the 69er 39-yard line. Jason Thomas, player coach at 43 years old, lined up in the shotgun to start the drive. The 69ers orchestrated a long 13-play drive down to our 39-yard line where they were faced with a third down and 14-yard situation due in part to a holding penalty. Their drive consisted of solid plays of which none were remarkable – simple, methodical plays that kept the ball moving forward. From third down, Johnson took the snap and dropped to pass. He couldn’t find any open receivers and was flushed out of the pocket to the left. We had some good pressure on him as he scrambled. The play ended with a that came from the backside from a hustling Karlsson who had been cut on the rush but had gotten up and chased down Thomas from the backside. Karlsson got a swipe on the ball and knocked it loose. Mika Mäkelä, our middle linebacker, recovered the fumble.

Tachu KO return Oskar fumble force

Webster and the offense took over on the Croc 36-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Doug dropped to pass and the 69er defensive secondary had our receivers well covered. Doug pushed a pass over the middle and a sitting middle linebacker picked the ball. The 69ers had the ball back at the 50-yard line and the defense had to immediately take the field with just a short break.

The second drive for the 69er offense was eight plays. On the first set of downs, Thomas converted on a quarterback sneak play to move the chains to the Croc 40-yard line. After a short one-yard rush by McCrea, we got hit with back-to-back penalties that gave the 69ers a first and goal from our six-yard line. The first penalty was on Tachu who the referee deemed a bit late on a big hit on a crossing receiver. The hit was clean and hard but perhaps a bit late. That cost us 15 yards. On the very next play Doc, our left corner, was flagged for a pass interference on a fade route down the right side of the field.

With a fresh set of downs the 69ers went to work. Thomas missed on first and second downs and lined up for the third down. The snap was bad and Thomas had to retreat to gather it in. That bad snap disrupted the entire play and caused Thomas to have to scramble to the right. He ended up throwing the ball away and was flagged for intentional grounding. The 69ers lined up to attempt a 41-yard field goal. The kick was well short and the defense bent but did not break for the second long series in a row. Croc ball on their 30-yard line.

69er pick Joni tacking

The offense again was three-and-out. The play that killed the drive was a second down and 10-yard situation where Doug was sacked for 10 yards. That put us in a hole from which we could not recover. With a fourth down and 16 yard situation, Spencer took the field to punt again. Spencer got off a good high punt and our gunners did a great job at dropping the return man immediately after the catch on the 69er 30-yard line.

Thomas and the 69ers went to McCrea on first down but he managed only a two-yard gain. Thomas then completed a couple passes but the net yardage was zero. They lined up to punt. It was nice to see the defense have a shorter time on the field during this series as they were on the field most of the first quarter.

Bell was set deep to punt and got the ball off. The kick actually slammed into the back of one of the 69er protectors in front of him. To us, it looked like we had blocked the punt but they had actually kicked it off of one of their own players. The ball bounced out of bounds at the 69er 26-yard line.

Doug sacked 69er getting tackled

With excellent field position, we still could not get going offensively. This play was punctuated by a fumble from Spencer Cutlan that resulted from a bad exchange between him and Doug in the backfield. This play set up a fourth and 10-yard situation from the original 26-yard line. After calling a timeout, we brought out the field goal unit to attempt the 43-yard kick. Spencer had the leg but the timing for the snap was off and the net result was a kick that sailed wide.

The defense took over and shut down the 69er offense again in three plays. Bell lined up to punt again. This time he got the punt off. Roman Runner fielded the kick in the air and picked up a nice 15-yard return to the Croc 49-yard line.

Croc FG Crocs tackling

The offense took the field and popped out two nice rushing plays. Cutlan took the first around the left side and made a nice mid-run cut to the sideline followed up by a good stiff arm to knock out 27 yards. Teemu Ivalo, our fullback, then pounded out an eight-yard gain up the middle. This set up the final play of the drive, which was a great play-action pass from Webster to Runner in the left corner of the endzone. Cutlan hit the extra point and we were finally on the board with 7:45 remaining in the half.

We kicked short and nearly recovered our own kick in the hole. Doc could not quite manage it though as he attempted to bat the ball back into play. The ball went out of bounds giving the 69er offense position on their own 39-yard line. McCrea rushed for seven yards but that was nearly erased with a false-start penalty on the next play. The 69ers rushed for a three-yard gain and then missed on a third-down passing play. Bell lined up to punt again. The punt was a good one down to the Croc 16-yard line. Roman did a great job of retreating and fielding the ball in the air to save some field position. Crocs had the ball on their own 16-yard line.

Runner TD catch Croc gang tackline

The offense struggled from here. The first play stuck them five yards deeper as a result of false-start penalty. Three successive rushing plays pushed us even further back to our own six-yard line. We lined up to punt from our own endzone. Cutlan got the punt away and it was fielded at mid-field. McCrea returned it 15 yards to the Croc 35-yard line. Two minutes and 40 seconds remained in the half.

The 69er offense did themselves no favors by getting hit with two holding penalties during their drive. They ended up having to punt the ball away. Bell kicked away and Roman fielded the punt and got 13 yards out of the return to place the ball at the Croc 33-yard line.

On the first play of the drive, Webster hit Vili Rajamäki on a quick slant route to the left. Unfortunately, Vili bobbled the catch and took a shot in the process. The ball popped up and forward. McCrea, from the safety position seemed to gather it in before it hit the ground. Confusion reined afterwards as our sideline judge clearly indicated that the pass was incomplete. However, in the end it was ruled an interception.

69er penalties vili hit on catch

With 54 seconds remaining in the first half, the 69ers took over on the Croc 47-yard line. Thomas opened up by hitting RJ Long for a nine-yard completion. Unfortunately, we were hit with a face-masking penalty on the tackle. That catch and the added penalty yardage put the 69er offense on our own 17 yard line. Thomas took the ball himself and picked up three yards on the carry. After a 69er timeout, we were hit with an encroachment penalty. There was nothing obvious about the infraction so we must have lined up in the neutral zone. With five seconds on the clock and the 69ers pushing at us from our own nine-yard line, Thomas took the snap and dropped to pass. They had lined up with three wide receivers (trips) to the right and a lone receiver to their left where Tachu was tasked with man coverage. The receiver ran a quick slant to the inside and Tachu managed to get some part of the ball to cause it to hit the ground in the process of being caught. The referees ruled it incomplete and the call was heavily argued by the 69ers. The half ended with the Crocs leading seven to zero.

halftime Scott sideline

During half we gathered the defense and encouraged them to keep doing what they were doing. We had played a good solid half of defensive football. We showed a lot of patience and composure to hang in there for several long drives while not allowing a score. It was the “bend-but-don’t-break” mentality and that is how we played that half.

We took the field after half and lined up to kick the ball to the 69ers. Cutlan kicked another “hole” kick and a big defensive lineman signalled a fair catch and gathered it in. The 69er offense took over on their own 38-yard line.

The drive was nine plays long and got the 69ers to about mid-field. The highlight of the drive for us was a 12-yard sack by our defensive end Gerald Gooden. Gooden just out-played the offensive tackle resulting in great penetration. His quickness overwhelmed Thomas and Gooden dropped him at the 69er 48-yard line. This put the punt team on the field. Runner fielded the punt and found some space on the sideline to run. He took a really hard shot from Bell to knock him out of bounds at the Croc 49-yard line.

The offense immediately went South with a holding call followed by a false-start penalty. We were looking at first down and 24-yards from our own 35-yard line. By fourth down we were within seven. We brought in Cutlan to punt the ball away. Cutlan got off a great punt that rolled down to the 69er two-yard line where we downed the ball.

Gooden sack punt downed

The 69er offense went to work from deep in their own territory. Despite putting pressure on them, they managed to move the chains and get a first down to give themselves some breathing room. On second down, Thomas connected with Winston for 12 more yards. On the next set of downs from shotgun and split backs, Thomas handed the ball off to Bell for an ISO play off our right side. Unfortunately, we had a Mike Backer blitz called and our play-side backer was cut well by the leading blocking back. This popped Bell into our second-tier of the defense. Roman finally brought him down after Bell had picked up 18 yards. A short pass later was followed by McCrea popping off an 11-yard carry to the Croc 41-yard line. The 69ers had a decent drive going not seen since the first quarter. Two rushing plays later put the 69er offense at third and seven yards to go from our own 37-yard line. Thomas dropped to pass and threw quick to the seam route. Roman Runner read the pass and jumped it for the interception. He quickly split the few remaining 69er offensive players and was headed untouched for the endzone.

During the return, Ashley Dewing one of our interior lineman, cut back and literally “nudged” a big offensive lineman that was about five yards behind Roman. The man went down and decided not to get up. All eyes had been on Roman and the return so for all practical purposes it appeared that Ashley had blocked back and “cheap-shotted” a 69er during the return. That was what was being screamed out after the play had ended. Drama was added to the chaos as the lineman laid there on the ground unable to rise up for a long while. The referees conferred and decided that it was an illegal block worthy of tossing Ashley out of the game. He was told to immediately leave the game and sideline. The touchdown return was cancelled giving us the ball on our 40-yard line. We all had “advise” for Ashley (me included) for making a bad block that wasn’t needed. Later, however, after examining the play on film, we determined exactly what had happened. The “block” was really basically a small collision, which was in fact entirely legal as it was in the face of the lineman. Additionally, the play was well within “concerned” distance of the runner Roman being only about five yards ahead of the play. I suspect that nobody really saw the play and judgements were made on reactions from the 69er bench and on-field players. We sent the play on to the league moguls and learned later that Ashley would not be prohibited from playing in our next upcoming game.

The offense took the field and put together a great drive that spanned 10 plays culminating in a Webster to Rajamäki 17-yard scoring pass over the middle. Doug dropped in a nice pass over the defender who was caught too far up when Vili had run a delayed hitch route before getting into the endzone.

During the first half, we had lost Juhani to a pulled hamstring. Juhani is our snapper for both field goals and punts. Compounding that was the fact that Ashley, who had been ejected, was our back-up snapper. Because of this, we opted to go for the 2-pt. conversion after the touchdown. During the attempt, Doug had been quickly flushed out of the pocket to the right and ended up having to throw the ball out of bounds. Crocs 13 and 69ers zero with 8:19 to go in the game.

Roman after pick six Vili TD

Cutlan and the kickoff team lined up to kickoff. Spencer kicked a squib that was downed on the 69er 45-yard line giving them good field position. They had removed Thomas from the quarterback position and McCrea was now taking the snaps. From the shotgun, McCrea took the snap and hesitated slightly before taking off on a quarterback draw. This is where he is the most dangerous. He slipped the line and caused our Mike Backer to miss in space. He was finally brought down after picking up 14 yards. The next set of downs was hampered by two 69er false-start penalties that put them back to mid-field with a third down and 18-yard situation. McCrea took the snap and dropped to pass. Gooden got ridden out deep on the right side and that opened up a running lane through which McCrea decided to scramble. He took off hard for the left sideline. We miscalculated some inside pursuit angles and then had a couple of guys out of position from the deep backside as the play developed. All this combined for a Charles McCrea 49-yard touchdown scramble. This type of play had been my primary concern during the week while practicing for this team.

During the week prior to the game, previous game film on them revealed a “gate” 2-pt. conversion set. The “gate” is play used where you offset the bulk of your offensive line well toward a sideline. Behind that line you place a single runner/receiver. On the other side of the offense, you isolate the center, who is eligible to receive a pass in this case, the quarterback, a tailback, and a wideout receiver. The idea is to see how the defense aligns to the play and then the offense either runs one of many options from the “gate” formation or they quickly pull together into a traditional extra point formation and kick the point after. Although we were correctly aligned against the “gate” formation, the 69ers opted to direct-snap the ball to the back just inside the wall of blockers to the left. They attempted to run the left side but our edge players, Kimmo Pasanen in particular, immediately shut down the play. Crocs 13 and 69ers 6 with 6:03 remaining in the game.

We lined up to take the kick expecting an onside. The 69ers executed a perfectly kicked onside ball that banged hard and high off the surface. We did a poor job of protecting and gathering the ball and the 69ers came up with it. Unfortunately, for them, their number two edge player was literally three yards offsides at the time of the kick. They lined up for a second try and abandoned the idea with a kick deep. Antti Kurenniemi fielded it deep and took a knee to down it. Crocs ball on their own 18-yard line.

Webster and offense struck quick with a couple nice plays. Cutlan took an inside handoff and made two nice cuts to the edge to pick up 15 yards on the ground. The very next play saw Ivalo, our fullback, pick up a 28-yard gain on a dive play. Ivalo literally gained 15 yards after contact and drug five 69ers during the final eight yards of the run. The drive stalled out at that point and Cutlan was brought in to punt from the 69er 41-yard line. The kick was placed to go out of bounds and it gave the 69ers the ball on their own 21-yard line with 2:53 remaining in the game.

McCrea getting the edge Spencer in open field

McCrea move back into shotgun to start the drive. He took the snap and connected on a short three-yard completion to Thomas on first down. From second down, McCrea dropped again and targeted Long down the right sideline deep. Both Doc and Roman had him blanketed in a classic “over-under” position and Roman elevated for the ball. The interception sealed the win.

The Croc offense took the field for the final two minutes and 18 seconds. Four rushes later and the burning of the final 69er timeout, the offense kneeled the ball down to end the game.

Roman pick 2 game over

We knew going into the game that it was going to be vastly different than our first meeting with the 69ers. The 69ers proved to be a greatly improved team that fought hard and were in the game to the very end. From our point of view we got the win, which was the critical component at this point in our schedule. We now were faced with a final road game with the Indians next Sunday to hopefully do our part in the combination of events needed to get that home semi-final game.

Here are some links for the game:

Statistics.

Pre-game article from 69er website.

Pre-game article from Croc website.

Post-game article from Croc website.

Photos by Marko Tuominiemi.

Post-game interview with Head Coach Charlie.

Pictures from O-M Matihalti.

Crocs 63 – Wolverines 0

20 August 2014

Last Saturday we played in “The Swamp” for the second week in a row. The Helsinki Wolverines came to town. The Wolverines have struggled this year due to the literal dismantling of their 2013 team, which defeated us in a semi-final game by eight points ending our season. This year, however, many of their top players left the team for other teams in the Maple League. To date, the Wolverines have managed only a single win. When we faced them for our regular season opener, we defeated them 79 to 14 on their home field.

This time around was not much different. The Crocs won the game 63 to zero in a controlled fashion. The win put us at six wins and two losses and ranked third. The previous week’s losses to Turku and Poorvo had taken away our shot at the top seed in the Maple League and left our bid for a home semi-final game in a much poorer position.

league standings

Despite the exodus experienced by the Wolverines, they still had their elusive Cedric Johnson manning the Quarterback position. He is quick and dangerous in the open field. Their top receiver is Finnish player Sebastian Sagne. Sebastian is Johnson’s “go-to” guy and has consistently performed for them.

Kickoff was scheduled for 4:00PM. The weather was perfect for football. There was no rain, thunder, or lightning. The temperature was much cooler than some of the games we had had so far this season.

We got through warm-ups with a bustling crowd of 20. That number is literal. I actually counted the number of people in the stands. The official count for the game was around 350. Crowds are not big for Maple League games by US football standards even when compared to High School games. I think our top crowd so far this year was over 800 and that was during the away game against top-rated Turku.

The captains met at mid-field and we won the toss and elected to take the kick to start the game. It took a couple tries to get the kick away. Sagne kicked the first one out of bounds and we decided to have them re-kick. This time, Simo Suurkuukka took the kick and managed 19 yards on the return putting the offense on the field on the Wolverine 46-yard line.

After a short opening three-yard rush, we hit three first downs in a row on two passes and a rush. The rushing first down was from Spencer Cutlan who was debuting as our running back due to both VP and Nissinen both being out from broken bones. Cutlan is from Wales and has consistently performed both during games and in practice. He has definitely been a highlight this season and a model import player. And, yes Eddie Cheadle, Spencer did much more than kick the ball during this game.

So the offense had a new set of downs on the Wolverine 12-yard line. We managed another first down through another back debuting – Juhanie Koivumäki. Juhani is a standout defensive player for us and was called upon to help our depleted backfield out. The final play of the drive was Cutlan punching it into the endzone. Spencer then converted on the point after and the Crocs were on the board – Crocs 7 Wolverines 0.

Croc offense Cutlan TD 1

Cutlan kicked off and after the return the Wolverines set up on their 29-yard line. They moved the ball well over the course of 11 plays to get to our 25-yard line and were faced with a third down and 10-yard situation. Johnson threw a beautiful pass over the middle to Sagne who was running a fast seam route. Lucky for us, he dropped the pass. This play was a sure score had Sagne made the catch. Faced with the fourth down, Johnson and the Wolverines could not convert and gave the ball up on downs.

The offense took the field again and quickly picked up a first down out to our 34-yard line. Unfortunately, during the next set of downs we were slapped with a holding penalty that stuck us in a hole. Looking at a second down and 20 Webster went under center. He took the snap and hit the edge on an option. Keeping the ball, Webster had a brilliant rush for 60 yards down to the Wolverine 11-yard line. On the next play from scrimmage, Webster connected up with Kris Kougia for the score with a wide open slant route. Cutlan converted and it was Crocs 14 and Wolverines 0.

Croc tackle Kris TD

Spencer kicked off with 2:37 remaining in the quarter. Sagne got a short return and the Wolverines started on their own 33-yard line. The offense got to the 50-yard line but then suffered a false start penalty that pushed them back into their side of the field. They could not recover and were forced to punt. Wolverine punting was less than stellar that day. This first one netted four yards from the line of scrimmage. We took over on our own 44-yard line.

This next series was rare in that we lost the ball on downs. Cutlan started it nicely with a 10-yard rush for a first down. The next play, however, saw a bad exchange between Webster and Juhanie… the ball was on the ground in the backfield. Juhanie managed to recover it though. A completed short pass to back to Juhani followed by a dropped ball by Cutlan left us with a fourth down and eight from the Wolverine 44-yard line. Cutlan dropped to punt. Spencer got off a beautiful 38-yarder to the Wolverine six-yard line where the ball went out of bounds.

Croc tackle 2 WOV tackle

The Wolverine offense managed a single first down and then found themselves lined up to punt once again. I could not have imagined a punt worse than the previous one but this one netted zero yards from the line of scrimmage. I couldn’t really see a reason for it by looking at the film clip. It may have actually hit one of the protectors in the backfield. If not, it was simply the worse shank I have ever seen. Regardless, Tachu scooped up the errant kick and picked up 10 yards before being forced out of bounds. We took over with a first and goal from the Wolverine 10-yard line.

Albeit it took us four plays but we did get the ball in. The capping play was when Webster rolled to the left and found Cutlan just inside the endzone on an out route. The catch was Spencer’s second touchdown. He converted on the extra point and it was Crocs 21 and Wolverines 0.

Wov punt Cutlan openfield

After the kickoff and another Sagne return, the Wolverines took the field on their own 31-yard line. On their first play they picked up a nice first down on a 14-yard slant route from Johnson to Rantanen. That play was the extent of the drive and they lined up to punt again with a fourth down and nine from their own 46-yard line. They finally got off a normal punt for around 30. Juhanie took it in the air and picked up a good 20-yards on the return.

Two passes and a rush later, we had the ball on the Wolverine 24-yard line with a new set of downs. Webster dropped into the pocket to throw. Cutlan was lined up in the slot and ran a nice hitch-and-go post route. The throw was there and Spencer made the catch for his third score of the day. Again, he it the extra point and it was Crocs 28 and Wolverines zero.

Makala defense Cutlan TD 2

The kickoff from Cutlan was deep and we had good coverage stopping Sagne after only a two-yard return. The Wolverines had the ball on their own 12-yard line with just over a minute remaining in the half. We loosened up our coverage and they banged out a couple pass completions to get the ball to our 34-yard line. We committed the sin of getting beat over the top on one pass that was for 38-yards. The drive turned bad at this point for the Wolverines. Oskar Karlsson flushed Johnson to the left forcing him to scramble. Juhanie closed fast from the near safety position and they combined for a six-yard sack.

The final play of the half was interesting. Johnson dropped to pass deep and Mika Luoma forced him outside the pocket and stripped Johnson of the ball. The ball actually went airborne and landed into the arms of Thomas Malagodi our big nose tackle. Thomas slowly rumbled toward the goal but sadly lacked the speed to get there. He did manage about 10 yards before being dragged down to end the half.

WOV catch Thomas fumble run

We exited the field with a 28 to zero advantage and found our regular spot behind the bleachers. We spent our 20 minute half resting. I did have some instruction for for defending slant routes and the seam routes, which were the only things that had hurt us during the first half. Other than that it was “good job”.

We lined up and kicked deep and stuck them inside the 20-yard line at the 19 to begin the third quarter of play. In a third down and eight situation, Johnson connected on a seam route that was not dropped this time to Karjala. After the catch, Karjala broke free and we had to chase him down from behind. It was a 40-yard pickup that got them into our side of the field. We followed that up with a defensive pass interference that took them down to our 39-yard line. Unfortunately, for the Wolverines, they were immediately tagged with an offensive pass interference call on the very next play. That play pretty much killed their drive. It was final when Ashley Dewing sacked Johnson for 10 yards on a fourth and 21-yard attempt. Croc offense took over on their own 45-yard line.

johnson to throw WOV drop

Webster and the offense took the field for the first time in the second half. On the first play from scrimmage, Webster handed the ball to Cutlan and their defensive end made a good play down the line to strip him of the ball. The ball bounced loose in the endzone and the Wolverines game up with it giving the offense a fresh start on our 48-yard line.

Johnson missed on a couple of passes and then faced a third and 10-yard situation. He went deep down the right sideline against our corner Doc who unfortunately was hit with a defensive pass interference call. The penalty gave the Wolverines the first down. With a fresh set of downs from our 33-yard line, the Wolverines stalled out and gave up the ball in downs. We took over on our own 29-yard line.

Wov recover fumble Doc PI

On first down, Webster hit Cutlan for a nice 11-yard completion. The Wolverines followed this with a holding penalty to set the ball at the 50-yard line. From first and 10, Webster dropped to pass and found Cutlan in the seam for a completion. Cutlan cut it up to the middle area of the field and broke free. He was in for his fourth touchdown of the day. Spencer hit the extra point to give the Crocs the lead at 35 to zero.

The following kickoff was both accidental and fortunate. Spencer lined up to kick and did not get much “meat” of the ball. Consequently, the kick was high and short to our right. It landed in a hole bouncing awkwardly near the sideline. Tachu Oreu, who has some speed, was down in a hurry and made a great between-the-legs deflection to keep the ball in bounds. Jussi Koivumäki, who was trailing Tachu a bit dove and covered up the ball. Croc ball on the Wolverine 36-yard line.

Our next drive featured a long-time Maple League player Teemu Ivalo. From the fullback position, Teemu got a nice seven-yard carry and a middle screen completion for 10 yards. Paydirt came from the 19-yard line from Webster to Cutlan again. Cutlan danced into the endzone with his fifth score of the day. He converted on the extra point to make it Crocs 42 and Wolverines zero.

Cutlan TD 3 rushing td

Cutlan kicked off and the return brought the ball out to the Wolverine 24-yard line. The Wolverine offense was non-existent. They managed three incomplete passes and an offsides penalty to add to their issues. They lined up to punt backed up near their own endzone. The snap was mis-handled and the punter found himself scrambling to find the ball. He did manage to fall on it to recover but the damage had already been done. The Croc offense would take over on the Wolverine two-yard line.

Two plays into the series, Webster found Simo Suurkuukka in the endzone for the touchdown completion. Spencer hit the extra point and the Crocs lead stretched to 49 with the Wolverines still at zero.

WOV punt 2 simo td

The Wolverines took the kick and got the ball out to their 34-yard line. For the second series in a row the Wolverines could manage nothing at all. After three incomplete passes they again lined up to punt. This time we got a little pressure on the kicker who had to side-step to his right and rugby-style the kick. The kick was bad coming poorly off his foot to the right and netted eight yards from the line of scrimmage before it sailed out of bounds. Crocs offense took over on the Wolverine 42-yard line.

During this series, which turned out to be the longest offensive series of the day at 12 plays, the offense chunked away at the field to eventually got the ball down to the Wolverine 10-yard line where they were looking at a fourth down and goal situation. We decided to bring Cutlan out and attempt the 27-yard field goal. The snap and hold were good but from the right hash, Spencer pulled it left and the ball missed its mark. Wolverines took over from their 10-yard line. During the drive, the clock had expired on the third quarter and we were now just into the final quarter.

Croc tackle 3 cutlan fg

Again, the Wolverine offense was nowhere to be found. After three plays they were lining up to punt again. And, once again, a terrible punt that netted 10 yards. We took the ball over on their 30-yard line.

The drive consisted of rushes by Cutlan, Webster, and Ivalo to get the ball into the endzone. Spencer hit the extra point and the Crocs led 56 to zero.

The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds and the Wolverines elected to take the ball on their 35-yard line. After rushing for no gain, the Wolverines and Johnson dropped to pass. Sagne ran a short hitch to the left and caught the ball. Kimmo Pasanen closed and stripped him of the ball. Our defensive end JP Hyvönen made the play to get the recovery. Croc ball on the Wolverine 33-yard line.

The offense took the field and cranked out three successive runs. Webster, Cutlan, and Cutlan. The capper was Spencer for an eight-yard touchdown giving him his sixth and final score of the day. He hit the extra point to be a perfect nine for nine and push the score to what was the final – Crocs 63 and Wolverines zero.

webster throw Cutlan running

We kicked off and the relatively short kick combined with a Wolverine 30-yard return gave their offense one last shot at avoiding the shutout. They started on their own 49-yard line. Johnson hit a nice opening pass to Sagne for an eight-yard gain. Then, on second down he dropped again. This time Toni Makela, our rookie middle tackle, found Johnson in the backfield and dropped him for sack. It was a great way to kill the drive and a good highlight for Toni. The remainder of the drive saw Johnson miss on two consecutive passes to give the ball over on downs.

The offense took the field for the final time with 1:48 remaining in the game. Planning to just run the ball out, Spencer took the ball up the middle and found daylight for a 43-yard gain to the Wolverine nine-yard line. The final play was a kneel-down to end it. Crocs 63 and Wolverines zero as the final.

ref game over cutlan player of game

The win was good because it both snapped our two-game losing streak and it gave us back some needed swagger. We executed well and could use this as a springboard to make the final push through our remaining two regular season games and into at least a semi-final game of the playoffs.

Here are some links for the game.

Game statistics.

Croc pre-game article.

croc post-game article.

Mid-week interview with Head Coach Charlie after the win.

Mid-week interview with Spencer Cutlan after the game.

Article from the SAJL website announcing Spencer Cutlan’s performance and declaration of the Maple League’s Player of the Week award.

Great pictures from the lh.pic.fi website. Photo credits to the great photographer that covered the game.

Crocs 18 – Butchers 26

14 August 2014

Last Saturday we started a 3-game home stand and sadly dropped the game. We played the Butchers out of Poorvo. They beat us last year as well in the season opener so this is a team we have never beat while in Finland. The unfortunate thing about losing this game is that it takes us out of the driver’s seat for a home semi-final game. Mathematically, it is still possible if certain things happen but us being able to control it definitely evaporated.

poster standings

The Butchers featured a very strong running game between the tackles and dangerous running when in space. In a sense, they were very much like the Trojans who we lost to last week. We knew this going into the game and would be focusing on trying to stop the powerful inside running game. They really had three threats on the ground: a very good running quarterback Jabari Harris, a strong fullback with Sebastian Lindell, and the top ground gainer RJ Jackson out of LSU as a tailback. The Butcher passing game has been virtually non-existent. It was bad timing (again) to be very low on linebackers. We would have two of the three playing out of position due to injuries and planned absences.

Kickoff was set for 4PM and the weather was turbulent. As we were in the locker room getting ready about an hour before game time outside the thunder and lightning was raging. Sheets of rain were pouring down like streams off the neighboring sports dome across the alley. We were not sure if the game would be delayed or not. The storm did break though and it turned to a slight drizzle by the time we took the field for warm-ups.

butcher captains Croc captains

The captains met at mid-field and we won the toss and deferred the choice. So our defense would get the first test. Spencer had a nice kick to about the five yard line and Pineda, one of the Butchers big linebackers took the return all the way out to their 45-yard line. Not a good start. The defense held though and after a single first down forced a punt from mid-field. We would start on our 25-yard line.

In three plays the offense was down inside their 10-yard line. Key plays were a 14-yard run by VP and a 55-yard strike from Webster to Roman Runner. We lined up with a first and goal from the six. The offense could not convert on the touchdown and we had to settle for a short field goal from Spencer to get on the board. Crocs 3 and Butchers 0.

butcher run field goal

We kicked off and the Butchers committed a penalty on the return and would start on their own 20-yard line. After an incomplete pass and an 11-yard run, Jackson the tailback busted the line and popped a 69-yard run to the endzone. The play quickly got into the second level and we had some bad angles that never allowed us to get a handle on Jackson. They missed the extra point. Crocs 3 and Butchers 6.

We took the ensuing kickoff and began our drive on the Butcher 40-yard line after a nice 50-yard return by Runner. We got down to the Butcher 12-yard line but then on a second down Webster’s pass was picked in the endzone for a touchback. The pass was a slant into the middle of the endzone and the defender made a good play to deflect the ball. He came up with it as he was falling down. It was a good interception.

jackson TD Doug pick

The defense forced the Butchers to punt out of their territory after allowing a single first down. We had a big sack from Gooden that stuck them in a hole from which they could not recover. The punt ended the first quarter.

The punt was not returned and rolled down inside our 10-yard line where it was downed. We would be starting in a deep hole. We only managed a single first down and that was by penalty. Spencer took the field to punt and got off a 39-yard kick that was downed on the Butcher 39-yard line.

This next drive for the Butchers defined them. They took the ball into the endzone in nine plays of which only one was through the air. Harris and Lindell combined up for the rushing yardage that methodically pounded forward. The extra point was converted and it was Crocs 3 and Butchers 13. The drive was three and a half minutes long.

butcher los Harris running

We took the kick and Roman got off another good return this time for 37 yards. We took the field at the mid-point. Despite a gift of five yards from the Butchers on a penalty, the offense went nowhere. We threw an incomplete pass and two running plays netted a single yard. We turned the ball over on downs at the Butcher 45-yard line.

The defense took the field and forced a punt. The Butchers shot themselves in the foot with a holding call that put them in a situation from which they could not recover. The punt was only 28 yards and sailed out of bounds giving the offense the ball on our own 35-yard line.

Barely into the drive we lined up for a second down and five yard situation from our 40-yard line. Webster dropped to pass and the receiver down the left could not get off the defender. The pass went long and was cleanly intercepted. Second turnover of the night. Butchers took over on their 42-yard line.

The Butcher offense picked up a couple first downs and with about a minute left in the half lined up in a third and three situation from our 29-yard line. Harris dropped on a rare pass and looked over the middle for a dragging wideout on a cross with an inside number two receiver. Our backers were in good position and Joni got a piece of the pass deflecting it into the air. Makela, our Mike Backer was able to gather it in before it fell to the ground. Croc ball with about half a minute remaining before the break.

Burning all three timeouts, the offense managed to get from our 18-yard line out to the Butcher 43-yard line before time expired. At the break it remained Crocs 3 and Butchers 13.

ref half time hat off halftime

Halftime was spent talking about gap control, the D-line needing to control the line of scrimmage, and the brutal reality that this team was just going to continue to try to pound the ball down our throats. No real secrets were coming out of the Butcher offense. It had been a tough, physical first 24 minutes and the next 24 were guaranteed to be another.

We took the kickoff to start the second half. Again, Runner had a nice return and set the offense up on our 40-yard line. Webster and the team took the field. Spencer, our kicker and wideout, took the handoff and picked up a nice 11-yard gain. During the first half, we lost VP our last running back to a broken collar bone. So, the offense had to steal from the receiving corp to fill the void. With a new set of downs, we converted on a third and 13-yard situation with nice pass to Runner to get us to the Butcher 38-yard line. Another converted third down but this time on a Butcher personal foul got us yet a new set of downs to the Butcher 23-yard line. The Butchers added to their issues on the very next play by committing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty giving us the ball on their 11-yard line. Two plays later Webster found Spencer on swing pass to the right where he gathered it in and walked untouched into the endzone. Spencer hit the extra point and it was now Crocs 10 and Butchers 13.

spencer td spencer celb

Spencer banged another deep kick around the Butcher goal line but Pineda rolled out a 62-yard return to our 36-yard line. The defense took care of the series though and forced a fourth and 13-yard attempt that failed resulting in the offense taking over from our own 49-yard line. The final play was a Butcher fake punt that our safety Orue sniffed out and stopped for a 10-yard loss.

Webster and the offense took over and moved the ball into Butcher territory. At the 31-yard line we committed a hold and that stuck us in a first and 20-yard situation. We threw an incomplete pass and then from the second down situation, a short pass over the middle designed to drop in over the dropping backer didn’t make the mark. The Butchers gathered in their third interception of the game. Butcher ball on their 31-yard line.

The remainder of the third quarter was all Butcher running game. They ate up five and a half minutes on the ground to get the ball down to our two yard line as the clocked ticked off. They threw the ball twice but ran for nine plays. Two runs were significant at 14 and 23 yards, respectively. We had a brief moment of excitement when they botched the center quarterback exchange and the ball was loose on the last play of the quarter. The Butchers came up with it though as we flipped sides to start the fourth quarter. On the first play of the quarter, Harris, the quarterback, booted around the right side and we missed a shot at him in the backfield. He was in for the score on a fourth down attempt. The extra point failed and it was Crocs 10 and Butchers 19.

butcher fumble harris boot td

The kickoff was a travesty. The kick was low and bouncing and was actually briefly touched. We chased the ball down into the endzone and then tried to run it out. The result was bad giving us the ball on our own 7-yard line. The offense was three and out and we were punting deep from our own 13-yard line. The punt gave the Butchers great field position on our 45-yard line. Nine pounding rushing plays later they are in the endzone again. In retrospect, this series of events is what broke our back and took the life out of us. The Butchers finally converted on an extra point to make it Crocs 10 and Butchers 26. Four minutes and 37 seconds remained in the game.

The kick was deep and in the endzone and we took the ball on our own 20-yard line. Sitting on a 16-point lead, the Butcher defense laid back and gave us the short game. We took advantage and with our “hurry-up” offense moved the ball methodically down the field to score within two minutes. We converted on the two-point try and were within eight points with 2:42 remaining. Crocs 18 and Butchers 26.

spencer run spencer td 2

The onside kick failed and the Butchers downed in on our 47-yard line. We would have one more shot.

The defense forced a three and out and burned a single timeout leaving us with two. The punt took the ball to our 13-yard line where it was downed. The offense would have two timeouts and a minute and 48 seconds of clock to work with. With a fourth and three-yard situation from our 20-yard line, Webster converted to Kris Kougia for the first down. Webster found Spencer on the next play for a short 10-yard completion. With a first and 10 from our 45-yard line, Webster dropped once again to pass. The Butchers brought heat up the middle and we did not pick up the blitz. Throwing down the left sideline as he took the full force blitz in his face, the ball fell short and into the hands of Toni Haukkamaa, an ex-Crocodile, for the fourth interception of the game. That sealed the win for the Butchers who kneed it out during the next series.

butcher kneel slap line

Again, it was a tough loss that could have been avoided. But, you learn from every game and we would have some good lessons from this one. We would need to try an put this loss behind us and finish out strong in the remaining three games of the regular season. The playoffs are a whole new season where anything can happen.

Here are some links for the game:

Game statistics.

Mid-week interview with Charlie after the game and after Tuesday’s practice.

Post-game article from the Croc website.

Post-game article from the SAJL website.

Pictures from the game from http://www.lh.pic.fi site. Credit to the great photographers there.

Crocs 19 – Trojans 37

05 August 2014

Last Saturday the Crocodile 2014 winning streak came to a grinding halt. We faced off against the Turku Trojans in Turku and came up on the short side of the scoreboard. The loss created a three-way tie for best records in the Maple League with four remaining games. As it stands now, the Roosters, Trojans, and the Crocodiles all have 5 and 1 win-loss records. It is a circular deal with the Crocs beating the Roosters, the Roosters beating the Trojans, and the Trojans beating the Crocs.

standings charlie poster

We knew coming into the game this would be by far our toughest contest to-date. The Trojans feature a big strong running back named Jocques Crawford and a talented wide receiver named Rodney Brown Jr. Both these players were part of the Crocodile roster during the 2013 season. Rodney was initially signed as a quarterback but was then moved to receiver after the organization signed Steve Adams midway through the season. Jocques ran the ball for the Crocs and set all kinds of records.

The Trojans are new to the Maple League having been promoted from the division below by winning that championship. Their organization is strong and they did a good job of gathering up a lot of talent from across Finland to field a large roster.

This game was a road game for us, which of course meant an early departure and the 5-hour bus ride to the coastal port town of Turku. We got there about two hours before the game and got ourselves ready. It was hot on the field at +32 Celsius. The surface was nice…top-quality field turf. The only drawbacks to the stadium were some relatively short spaces between the back lines of both endzones and a tall chain-link fence, which surrounded the field, and the scoreboard, which was directly behind the visitors sideline where you can’t easily see it.

Gooden workman

We had to play very short-handed this game on defense. We were missing our American Defensive End Gerald Gooden from Purdue due to an ejection during the Roosters game last week. The rules here in the Maple League are if you get tossed in the second half of a game, you automatically are suspended for the next game. An unfortunate reality here is that many players are targeted and goaded into altercations. To me, it is much like the “red-card” strategy employed in World Cup soccer.

Another issue was our linebacker core. We were still down many players from that group. However, as I mentioned in my last week’s blog about the Rooster game, you put your best 11 players on the field and do the best that you can.

The game began with the coin toss, which we won and then chose to defer. So the defense would be taking the field first.

coinflip kickoff

Cutlan lined up to kick and sent the ball sailing into the arms of Brown who returned it 16 yards to the Trojan 27-yard line. Using an efficient 11-play drive, the Trojans methodically moved the ball down the field and punched it in for the touchdown. The highlight play for them was a 28-yard rush by Crawford. This rush turned out to be his longest run of the day. The defense was anxious and we had some bad angles and overrun issues that allowed the long run. They hit the extra point and we were down early 7 to 0.

Webster and the offense took the field on the Croc 27-yard line. Three incomplete passes later, Cutlan was punting the ball. Spencer had a nice kick that was well place out of bounds denying Brown a chance to return it. The Trojan offense took over on their own 42-yard line.

Crawford TD run VP getting tackled

After a quick first down on a completed pass, the Trojans were hit with a holding penalty that put them into a hole. On third down and 18-yards to go, the defensive line jumped offsides and West, the Quarterback, had a free play to work with. He took a shot down the field but Tuomas (Doc) picked the ball. All this was, of course, for nothing as we had the offsides. With a third and 13-yard situation, West threw to Rodney, who missed. The Trojans had to punt the ball away.

The offense took the field deep in our territory on the 14-yard line. They strung together an 18-play drive that consumed nearly 10 minutes of play clock that spanned the first and second quarters. During the drive, Webster connected on passes with Cutlan, Runner, and Rajamaki. All these were nice gains to keep moving the ball down field. The final strike was to Suurkuukka for the score. Vili added the extra point and we were tied at seven each.

West Scramble Cutlan catch

We kicked off and the Trojan offense started on their own 35-yard line. The offense put together a solid 10-play drive to log their second touchdown. The key plays for this drive came from a third down and 4-yard play that was a swing pass to Rodney and then a personal foul penalty we committed while defending in the red zone. Unfortunately, we missed on a tackle when they ran the swing pass and the resulting yards-after-catch went from zero to 19. The penalty placed the Trojans inside our 10-yard line. Crawford, who is hard to stop, scored from seven yards out. They converted on the extra point to make it Trojans 14 and Crocs 7.

Doc misses Rodney Trojan Extra Point

We took the kick and started our next offensive series from our own 19-yard line. A Trojan face-masking penalty got them somewhat out of the hole and gave them a new set of downs on our own 39-yard line. After the next three plays, we were faced with a fourth and 3-yard situation from our own 46-yard line. We opted to go for the first down. Webster found a wide open Roman Runner who made it to the endzone untouched for the 56-yard score. Vili missed the extra point and the score was Trojans 14 Crocs 13 with 3:50 remaining in the half.

Webster to Pass Runner TD

Cutlan kicked off and the Trojans ate a 15-yard clipping penalty on the return giving them the ball on their own 23-yard line. They managed a first down after three short gains and then Crawford broke out another good gain for 24 yards down to our 43-yard line. Two more completed passes and another personal foul put the Trojans on our 10-yard line with a new set of downs. Time was running down and the Trojans called for a timeout with 24 seconds remaining. With a second and goal from the 5-yard line, they completed a pass to Crawford for no gain. Things were moving fast and the Trojans rushed to the line with West going under center. Apparently, more time had ticked off the clock than I had realized. I was certain we had about 15 seconds or so left and desperately wanted to set up something for the defense. I made the mistake of not checking the time on the scoreboard behind me and called a timeout. Turns out, three things happened at once: the clock ticked down to one second, West successfully spiked the ball, and the ref called the timeout. It was a sideline coaching gaffe to say the least and I felt pretty bad about it. But… shit happens and that would qualify as shit. I took full responsibility for it. The Trojans ended the half by lining up and hitting the short field goal to make the halftime score 17 to 13. The understatement of the moment was that I was little frosted at myself.

West Scramble 2 Field Goal Block

Halftime was spent in the dressing room. Considering the short-handedness of the defense, I thought we had done fairly well. We had limited Jocques to just a couple larger runs that were by no means game-breaking plays. I emphasized angles and breaking down in space to make open-field tackles, apologized for my timeout and then left the room.

We started the second half by taking the kick. Both our first series on offense and the Trojan’s first series resulted in punts. Our series began with a brilliant 67-yard kickoff return by Roman Runner that gave us the ball on Trojan 23-yard line. Then, a pass interference call against the Trojans put down to the 8-yard line with a first and goal. Unfortunately, we missed on three consecutive pass attempts and were going to settle for the field goal. The snap and hold were good but the kick hit the left upright and rebounded back. Flags were on the ground though. Turns out the call was a “running into the kicker” penalty. This particular penalty is slightly different than a “roughing the kicker” penalty, which results in an automatic first down. A “running into the kicker” penalty is less severe and took the ball halfway to the goal line setting up a new fourth down with four yards to go. We decided to go for it. Webster rolled to the right and had to throw across the grain and we missed.

Turku’s offensive series started deep from the 4-yard line. They called and executed a nice screen for 19 yards to get them some breathing room. The defense held though and eventually forced the punt. After the punt, we had the ball back on our own 21-yard line.

We screwed ourselves with multiple penalties on this drive and were forced to punt again. Cutlan punted from our 20-yard line and got off a nice 43-yarder that went out of bounds. Trojans took over on their own 37-yard line.

This next series was a disaster for our defense. Turku immediately hit two nice plays for 16 and 19 yards, respectively. They then worked their way down to our 21-yard line and were faced with a third-down and three yard situation. They lined up in trips to the left with Rodney Brown isolated to the right. Our best cover corner Doc was on him in man coverage. Rodney ran a delayed release fade down the right sideline. Doc had good deep coverage on him and West overthrew the ball… or so it seemed. Rodney managed a brilliant, one-handed catch using his right hand. However, as I clearly saw from the sideline, his left hand helped distance himself from Doc by providing a push. Doc hit the deck as Rodney came down with the catch. The sideline judge made the call and the yellow flag came out. All this was for nought, though, as West lined up with a fourth down and 18-yard situation that we should have completely managed. The Trojans went for it and sent Saloranta down the left side. Our corner lost the deep and was behind by a step and the pass dropped in for the catch and score. The extra point was good to make it Trojans 24 and Crocs 13.

Rodney one handed grab Rodney push off

We took the kick and Roman got us out to the Croc 27-yard line. On a third down and 10-yard play, Webster hit VP our running back on a middle screen but he was stripped of the ball. More salt in our wounds as the Trojans scooped the ball and went in for a defensive score. The extra point failed but it was now Trojans 30 and Crocs 13 with 4:01 remaining in the third quarter.

We started our next series from our own 27-yard line. We picked up a first down on an offsides penalty committed by the Trojan defensive line. Then, on a first and ten from our 41-yard line, Webster hit Suurkuukka for nice 11-yard pass. Disaster struck again on the yards-after-catch run. Once again, we lost track of the ball and it was on the ground. The Trojans recovered.

VP running VP fumble

The Trojans took over on their own 44-yard line and put together a 14-play scoring drive. The defense was not able to stop the steady stream of short to medium gains on the ground. The score was completed with one-yard rush from Crawford. The extra point was good and it was now early in the fourth quarter with the Trojans 37 and the Crocs 13.

On the next series, the offense went nowhere and were eventually faced with a fourth and 30 from our own ten. This all happened with a combination of sacks and bullets to the foot (penalties). Cutlan stood in the endzone to make the kick. He got off a 36-yard punt to give the Trojans the ball on our 36-yard line.

During the next defensive series for us we were looking at a manageable third down and 11-yard situation when West dropped to pass. He was flushed from the pocket and ran nine yards before one of our linebackers Juhanie stripped him of the ball and Tuomas Leinonen scooped it from the ground and took it down to the Trojan 40-yard line.

Crawford taking handoff Trojan Fumble

Webster and the offense took the field again and strung together a series of completions to get us in the endzone again. The score dictated that we go for the two-point conversion. Unfortunately, we failed to convert and the score remained Trojans 37 Crocs 19 with 5:23 remaining in the game.

We lined up and attempted an onside kick. The kick bounded long and Crawford covered it up. Trojans would start on what would be the final drive of the game from their own 43-yard line. Turku moved the ball well enough to keep the chains moving and eat up the remaining time in the game. From our 10-yard line they mercifully took a knee to end the game.

The game was not without drama and issues. In the second quarter, there was a double ejection. Apparently, our 3-tech tackle Ashley Dewing and one of the Trojan guards had enough activity to get themselves both ejected. This put further pressure on our already short-handed defensive line. The first half was also laced with plenty of emotion from both teams due in part I am sure to the familiarity that both teams had with each others roster. In the second half we saw a great hit by Roman Runner that was flagged as unnecessary. Along with that, we had a close catch in the endzone that was released early due to an impending collision with the chainlink fence and was thus ruled incomplete. And finally, we lost a valuable running back in Mika Nissinen who suffered a broken fibula during the game.

Ejected 2 Roman flag for hit
fence catch fence

It is always tough to lose but you can gain valuable lessons from every game win or lose. This game would provide us with the opportunity to get better in several areas. We would survive and continue on with our four games and our season’s run at the Maple Bowl game. Next week would be the tough Poorvo Butchers at home.

Here are some links for the game:

Game statistics.

Pre-game article.

Post game article from Trojan site.

Post game article from the Croc site.

Pictures from touchdown.fi. All photos in this blog credited to touchdown.fi photographers.

Post Game mid-week interview with Charlie.