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Notre Dame College dominated the visiting Naval Academy with a 27-8 victory in a non-conference bout. It was a tremendous weekend for the program, hosting one of the Military Academies on the 15th anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
The College welcomed the South Euclid Fire Department Honor Guard for the opening ceremonies. In fact, the Fire Department hung a banner from the ladder commemorating the event.
It was a particularly emotional experience for NDC head coach and nearly 30-year veteran of the Cleveland Fire Department Jason Fox. Fox lost a number of friends in the terrorist attack and having the Naval Academy on campus was an honor that elicited a number of different emotions.
“I was choked up. I work for the Fire Department in Cleveland and I lost a couple of friends on 9/11 and still have quite a few friends that play on all sorts of New York teams,” an emotional Fox told Rugby Today.
The Falcons dominated possession throughout the game and when the Mid-Shipmen had the ball, the defense held steadfast. For most of the game, NDC held Navy to three points, taking a 12-3 lead into the break.
“I think our defensive structure was good. We work hard at it and don’t commit to the ruck if we know we have lost it,” said Fox. “We come up fast and have an attacking line that communicates very well defensively. I was very happy with our defensive structure.”
Tremendous defense and some stellar play from standouts Cory Graham and Marcus Tupuola gave NDC a 17-3 lead through most of the second half and spearheaded a try for a 22-3 lead. Navy finally broke through for a score to cut the lead to 22-8 but a late score sealed the match for the Falcons.
“We have two big players in Cory and Marcus that can kind of single handedly take over a game and that is kind of what they did,” Fox said of the two dynamic backs.
Notre Dame College continues to build a strong program. The Varsity program has tremendous support from the University and a solid coaching staff supporting Fox. Luke Markovich, who played at a high level for years with 1823 came aboard last season and has helped propel the program to new heights. Recently, the school added Alex Ludwig, who played at Ohio University as a defensive and strength and conditioning coach and former player Tommy Walsh as a Graduate Assistant.
The small school in Ohio continues to tack impressive wins to its resume. Having Navy willing to travel to Ohio for a contest, and winning that match is huge for the program.
“It means everything. The respect that Mike (Flanagan) for our program and for them to step up and spend a considerable amount of money and time to play small college outside of Cleveland Ohio is huge,” Fox added.