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But perhaps the most crucial move came from NOVA. Having beaten Norfolk in their opening week and then losing to Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh a week later, NOVA was at 2-1 staring down league leaders PAC.

A loss here wasn't going to be the end of their season, but it would certainly hurt. In the end, though, NOVA didn't lose, they tied PAC 26-26, securing a bonus point and staying right in the playoff mix, 4th place with 13 points behind Maryland (14 pts), Pittsburgh (16) and PAC (17).

"I know it sounds trite," said club president Clarence Williams, "but once again this was a team effort where the guys showed tons of grit and never broke, even with only 13 men on the field for the final minutes."

NOVA fell behind 12-0 early but scored twice to equalize Then with the team struggling to do what the ref wanted them to do, and compounding that with mistakes, NOVA was behind again.

Cards were shown, NOVA was shorthanded, but, said Williams, "the fellas never quit.

"Our forwards played about as tough as anyone can against a good side like PAC, and provided us with tough defense several times on our line, not to mention providing some solid platforms of attacking ball when we needed it most."

Terris Gregory was superb on defense and Anwaar Muhammad picked off a pass for a try and put in some other big runs.

But it's hard to overlook Dan Weku's a spectacular try, attacking from the opposite wing, right at full time to tie the match.

"It was a top-class try," said Williams.

Fullback Gareth Willatt slotted a high pressure kick to tie the game at full time.

That was a clutch kick, and a clutch try, and in the end, a clutch result. No, it wasn't a victory, but for NOVA, it might as well have been. Having played three of the toughest teams in the league, they are 2-1-1, and if they can handle the tough Exiles in two weeks, they might run the table.