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In one of the weekend’s two matches amongst ranked DI opponents, No. 15 Davenport held onto a big lead to beat No. 18 Bowling Green 37-26 in Bowling Green, Ohio. The Panthers led 15-0 at halftime and led 37-0 before the Falcons mounted an offensive.
Gabe Sochanek book-ended Davenport’s seven-try effort, dotting down the Panthers’ first and last tries, the latter coming near the 50th minute. It was the only one converted by DU, and flyhalf Knute O’Donnell was the one slotting the extra two points. Flanker Roman Mares, center Mike Houston, wing Willy Urena, wing Vershawn Burke and fullback Delton Clay also recorded tries.
Davenport made some subs after securing the 37-point lead, but didn’t necessarily clear the bench. Bowling Green just mounted a comeback, and the Panthers lost their sense of urgency.
“We didn’t do ourselves any favors. We need to tighten our conditioning up a little bit,” said Davenport coach James Wood. “We let them get on the front foot and build a little bit of momentum and some confidence, and it just kind of rolled from there. It went the other direction a little bit, almost like we decided to take a break, and it bit us in the butt.”
The win is a confidence builder for Davenport, who entered Saturday’s contest reeling from a 30-6 defeat at Penn State. In that game, flyhalf Brady Gent went down with a strained MCL early, and the Panther attack stalled. Saturday, Gent was still on the sidelines, but O’Donnell moved from his usual position of scrumhalf to cover, and he played better.
“We were just a little too anxious to score some points, and we tried to force some things,” said Wood of the Penn State game, “so this whole week we got back to some basic principles and being a bit more patient with the ball and letting things come to us naturally. Overall, it was a much better result, and a much more well-played game on our end.”
Saturday, Davenport’s top flyhalf, JP Eloff, got on the field for the first time since tearing his ACL last season. He played short minutes at fullback, as he’s still trying to get his feet back under him.
Bowling Green returns to MAC action next week against Ball State. The Falcons are 1-0 in league play after a 62-0 win over Louisville Sept. 6. Davenport, which plays its conference schedule in the spring, has a homecoming friendly against Arkansas State Oct. 10 in Grand Rapids, Mich.