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In a non-conference match between #13 Davenport and Mid-American Conference leader, Bowling Green State, the Panthers survived a second half assault by the Falcons to win 29-20. After racing out to a 24-3 lead at halftime, Davenport surrendered three straight tries to cut the lead to four points with 15 minutes to go. Davenport’s Dominique Bailey’s eightman pick to the corner in the last minutes proved to be the dagger as the Panthers won, 29-20.
With a strong wind dictating the direction of the scoring, Davenport took advantage in the first half. With the wind at its back, the Panthers began the contest with three consecutive tries by Dominique Bailey, Chase Pego, and Hans Dessureault for the 19-0 lead. BGSU’s Nick Ross chipped in a penalty to break the goose egg, but the Panthers extended the lead to 24-3 at halftime with a try by Ben Terrell, who filled in admirably after starting scrumhalf Brady Gent left the game with injury.
The teams switched sides after the intermission and the wind assist along Davenport’s less experienced substitutions allowed the Falcons back into the game. Ball handling and ball security became big problems for the Panthers as BGSU pounced on each opportunity to three straight tries of their own. Ryan Steinmetz, Bobby Kiskin, and Griffen Palmer each found the endzone to make the tally 24-0.
With about five minutes remaining, Davenport’s Bailey stopped the bleeding with his second try. Bailey took an eightman pick to the house out-accelerating the flankers and beating the backs to the corner. Noah Zomberg connected on his second conversion for the nine-point lead and the defense held on as the Falcons battled until the final whistle.
“Overall, we played a clinical game of rugby,” Davenport head coach Harry King said. “In the second half, we started to make more mistakes then usual and we were losing the ball in contact, which gave the Falcons more opportunities to bring the score closer then it should have been.”
On the other side, BGSU head coach Tony Mazzarella indicated that the wind was a factor in the match, but poor discipline with ball in hand was a major downfall for the Falcons. “They had the wind in the first half and put up the points and we, obviously, did a good job coming right back. We just made a couple of mistakes down in our own end, especially on kickoffs. We spotted them a few too many to begin with and didn’t quite have the finishing to get the win.”
On the rivalry between the two clubs and looking forward to the MAC postseason, Mazzarella remarked, “Davenport has been a fairly decent rival for us over the last couple of years. I told the guys this was definitely a game we could have, and in some cases, should have won... This let us know that anything can happen when we don’t play disciplined rugby. We’re vulnerable, so we have to tighten the ship up and go into the MAC Championships and the rest of the season with more discipline and better execution.”
After playing Kent State next Saturday, BGSU hopes to enter the MAC playoffs as the #1 seed. With the MAC Semifinals and Championship on the weekend of November 5-6, the Falcons are confident to bring home the trophy to Bowling Green.
Davenport will battle its first D1A opponent next Saturday at home against Mid-South Conference opponent, Arkansas State. In a preview of this upcoming spring’s schedule, the Panthers are optimistic to see competitive match between two ranked teams before the long winter break.