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Lindenwood needed a second half surge to overcome a feisty Davenport side. The Lions scored two late tries and overcame a 12-3 deficit with less than 20 minutes to play to win the Mid-South match.
The teams spent the first 20 minutes going back and forth, probing each other’s defense. Davenport got on the board first when Anthony Welmers broke off a long run. The conversion was missed so Davenport led 5-0.
Lungi Tshuma got Lindenwood within two with a penalty but that was all the scoring the Lions would do in the first stanza. The Panthers played excellent defense and maintained a majority of possession in the first half, limiting Lindenwood to only a few opportunities.
“You have to give full credit to Davenport. They are exceptional, their ball retention and continuity was brilliant. We have to give credit where credit is due,” said Lindenwood coach JD Stephenson.
Welmers extended Davenports lead with his second score midway through the second half. Brady Charles kicked the ball ahead and the center sprinted on to it for the score. With the conversion, Davenport led 12-3.
The set piece play from Lindenwood allowed the Lions to remain close. Lindenwood struggled in most areas for long spells of the match but lineouts and set pieces kept Davenport from pulling away.
“Our line out and scrum were brilliant. I think that is really what kept us in the game,” said Stephenson.
Tshuma cut the lead to six points with his second penalty of the day and a try with 12 minutes remaining cut the lead to 12-11. A ball squirted out of a ruck and fullback Morgan Findlay turned it into points. The Lions didn’t really generate any creative plays that lead to the score but getting the score produced some momentum.
Minute’s later, winger and recent USA Eagle debutant, Deion Mikesell found the outside and scored the game winner for the Lions. The freshman continues to hit his stride after scoring for the national team several weeks prior.
Mikesell’s teammate, Lorenzo Thomas, who also scored in his Eagles debut during the ARC, sat this one out. Nonetheless, the Lions showed character to come back later.
“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves by any means… but it was definitely a gutsy performance and a lot to take out of the win,” Stephenson added.