04.07.2008 klo 15:57
The very first Trojan home game on the new turf of the Upper Field attracted a good crowd. The fans on the packed bleechers were not disappointed as the home team turned the tide and got their much-needed victory over Tampere Saints. Although the Saints are only debuting in the Maple League, the game was no walk in the park. It remained unresolved until the end as 60 % of the points were scored in the 4th Quarter of the game.
The Trojan QB Jayson Davis had finally recovered and played the entire game in the absence of Danny Andersson. Johnell Wyatte, on the other hand, could only help out during the most critical moments as the back of his thigh has been acting up. Regardless of minor problems in team co-ordination and some carelessness in the receiving and defensive departments, the boys played a good game of football.
Jayson Davis is back and he means business. Passing, rushing, all sorts of goal-scoring business.
The Saints received the kickoff and made a slow progress towards the Trojan turf. Getting close to the red zone and only inches to go for new downs, linebackers Juha Pennanen and Ilja "Russian Rocket" Redin saved the hour by sacking the quarterback. A false start on the 4th down made sure the Saints will have to punt. The Trojans began at their own 13 something that would become a very successful offensive. RBs Teemu Pietiainen and Ville Jarvio took the ball forward slow and steady until WR Ville Vene caught a long pass and gained 23 yards for the team. The Trojans were still at their own 47 when QB Jayson Davis suddenly got loose and personally hauled the ball all the way across the field for a touchdown. WR/K/P Janne Stenberg's PAT was good. 7-0. Maybe it was too early to celebrate though. Having barely settled down from the previous spectacle, the Trojans fans had to witness the Saints' QB Chris Sharpe make a kickoff return TD. DB Seikko Vennela managed to block the PAT attempt. 7-6 for the Trojans.
Seikko Vennela, a walking bar of soap, will slippety slide out of any jam.
More excitement was to follow. The Trojan offensive returned the kickoff to a very advantageous field position (opp 34). One slants play (receiver Stenberg) and QB keep later the Trojans would face a 4th and 1 situation. They decided not to kick and had to turn over because of an incomplete pass. Being pinned down in a difficult position the Saints would suffer a safety in the heavy hands of Trojan DL Jukka Vesikko. 9-6. The following Trojan offense was all a running game and ended at the opposing 28-yard line. They opted for a field goal, but the kick was short enough not to reach the goal posts at all. The next drives were difficult for both teams, as effective defense prevented either one from gaining serious yardage. We had to retire for the halftime break more than two minutes early as Trojan DL Kimmo Erola hurt himself and could not be evacuated from the field in a while. After the break the Saints pulled off quite the shenanigan. After what looked like a botched punt snap the punter (Ilkka Laitinen) just grabbed the ball and scored a touchdown from beyond midfield. Even though the Saints were 9-12 in the lead, they decided to opt for a two pointer for some obscure reason and failed, much because of Ilja Redin's tackle.
The Trojans changed their tactics from running game to pass and QB keep offense. WRs Ville Vene and Juha Suoniemi managed to advance the ball, but there were way too many bad catches on the Trojans' side. Eventually the offensive stopped 10 yards short of the end zone and the Trojans went for a field goal. This time Stenberg would settle for nothing short of 3 points. Halftime score 12-12.
LB Janne Salonen is taking it to the next level. The horizontal level.
The following Saints' drive was marred by delays and false starts, not to mention the good people of Trojan defense such as Janne Salonen, Ilja Redin, and Seikko Vennela. To a great surprise, an offense that stopped 33 yards shy of the end zone produced the Saints three points. Kicker Ilkka Laitinen completed a full 48-yard FG, which is very unusual in the Maple League. 12-15. Neither the home team or the visitors could make it work until the 4th Quarter, when it was a whole new ball game. At first the Trojans advanced from their own 18 to opposing 5 in only three downs! Vene caught a 20+ yd pass, Pietiainen ran for 35 and finally Davis played a 20-yd keep. All it took now was a toss to Johnell Wyatte and a touchdown was scored. PAT was no good; 18-15.
To the great dismay of the home team the Saints' QB Chris Sharp did it again. For a second time in one game he returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Ilkka Laitinen got the thing through and the Saints were leading 18-22. An effective offense brought the Trojans a touchdown in only five plays. Ville Vene eventually caught a short pass and made it to the end zone, and Stenberg's kick was good. 25-22. The Saints had no patience and did the same in only two downs; Veikka Lehtonen's impressive run from midfield set the score to 25-28. PAT was good and the Trojans were trailing by four points. 25-29.
The Trojans' kickoff return was almost cut short by a fumble, but WR Arto Ahtola swiftly recovered the ball. Teemu Pietiainen and Ville Jarvio advanced the ball by rushing until something spectacular happened. With 29 yards to go, Jayson Davis' pass bounced high off receiving Ville Vene's hands only to land in those of Arto Ahtola several yards away. As if that was not enough, what ensued was the most amazing 2-point conversion. Johnell Wyatte, seeing that his way was blocked, started running downfield. When he turned back towards the now scattered defense he dodged and broke tackles left and right, bringing the ball to the end zone and leaving the audience awestruck and clapping their hands sore. Particularly well-earned eight points put the Trojans back into the lead position. 33-29.
Saints' QB Chris Sharpe preparing for one of the only 10 pass attempts in the game.
The Trojans, being wary of Sharpe's returns, kicked short and low to avoid further surprises. Nick Madsen made sure the Saints don't get too good a field position. Incomplete passes and LB Martti Valimaa's beautiful blitz kept the Saints at bay until Seikko Vennela could take an advantage of the Saints' 4th and long situation and repossess the ball. Right after the interception Trojans scored two touchdowns (Wyatte and Jarvio), both of which were deemed no good due to illegal formations. Finally a long pass to Ville Vene (and Stenberg's point after) set the final score to 40-29.
The Trojan passing game was much more effective than the Saints'. The home team advanced the ball 227 yards passing while the visitor could only do 26. The Trojans were credited 287 rushing yards; in that department the Saints reached an almost equal figure of 212. It is worth noting that the Trojan QB Jayson Davis played several keep games and in fact scored the most rushing yards, 131. Teemu Pietiainen rushed 81 yards. The most valuable players were Jayson Davis and the Saints' DL Veikka Lehtonen. Next Saturday (the 5th of July, 4 pm) the Trojans will encounter Porvoo Butchers, arguably the number 1 team in the league, in another home game. Our boys can use all the encouragement, so please make sure you are on site and rooting for the Trojans!
Story: Jussi Hakokari
Photography: Kari Toivonen