Men’s rugby goes 3-0 over the weekend

Bowling Green humbled rugby powerhouse Marshall University 81–13 on Saturday at BG’s College Park Rugby Field. The Falcons also defeated Ferris State 38–26 and 46-7.

For the second week in a row, the Falcon ruggers defeated the only Mid-American Conference team to have defeated BG since 1998. The victory put the Falcons in the driver’s seat to capture its 22nd consecutive MAC club rugby championship.

“Every week our opponent gets a scouting report on how to stop us, and every week we morph into something they haven’t prepared for,” said BG coach Roger Mazzarella. “Flood the outside and our centers will take it up the gut. Double-team the backs and the forwards will make you hemorrhage up front. We are about as balanced a team as we could possibly get.”

BG captain Vince Starpoli said, “Conditioning was a huge factor this weekend. We had it and they didn’t. Except for a brief flurry late in the first half, Marshall looked gassed.”

Marshall coach Dennis Johnson said his team knew exactly what to expect going into the game.

“You make a mistake though, and you’ve got brown jerseys all over you six ways to Sunday. Heck, those boys (BG) really put on a show for their fans. Some of their tries were so pretty, I couldn’t help admiring them myself.”

Johnson certainly had plenty of tries to admire as BG scored over a point a minute and crossed the goal line a season high thirteen times.

Leading the way were props Kris Black and Bobby Brandenstein with three tries between them.

Brandenstein opened the scoring with a fifty-yard run down the sideline and he repeated the feat just three minutes later.

Center Zac Molnar picked off his second pass in as many weeks for a score, and wing Alessio DiFranco raced in un-touched for BG’s fifth try.

Marshall briefly showed some offensive life with a penalty field goal but then BG scored again. Fullback Matt Johnston, center Carl Samuel and wing Chad Cunnigan scored on long runs while Johnston nailed six conversion kicks to give BG a 52–3 halftime lead.

BG started out the second half right where they left off. Johnston and Samuel picked up their second tries while eight man Fred Ackermann put in a pair and scrum half Staropoli had a solo try.

Johnston hit on two of five conversion attempts and Marshall scored a garbage time try to make the final score 81-13.

As easy as BG’s game was against Marshall, the Falcon’s match with up and comer Ferris State was more difficult.

“We are a big target for every team that wants to make a name for themselves,” stated Mazzarella. “Lose your focus against a team like Ferris and the next day’s paper screams ‘Upset’ in 72-point type.”

Taking advantage of an uncharacteristic gap in the Falcon defense, Ferris matched BG’s scoring point for point right up until the very end of the second half.

“BG got us on conditioning in the end,” said Ferris coach Brad King. “We’ll be back though, it gives our guys something to work towards.”

The Falcons made a quick start on wing Jeron Foust’s try and fly half Derek Imes conversion and penalty field goal. BG could never pull away as Ferris stayed even with the Falcons and even held the lead twice.

Wing Dan Brigadoi and center Ian Gagnon added tries in the first half, and Imes, who was perfect on the day, hit two more conversions to give BG a 24 — 19 halftime lead. The Bulldogs picked a try and conversion to lead most of the second half 26 — 24 only to fall behind for good when BG flanker Brian Farrell and fullback Mike Craig scored tries and Imes hit two more conversions in the 38 — 26 victory.

Ferris went down easily in the second match 46–7. Gagnon picked up three more tries, wing Ben Gutek picked up a pair and fullback Gordon Kropp, prop Scott Holden and lock Tom Forbrizzio scored a try each. Gutek also added a pair of conversions and fly half Dave DiBenedetto had one.

The Falcons, now 9 – 2 travel to Blacksburg, Va. to take on No. 16-ranked Virginia Tech under the lights and possibly Hurricane Isabel as well on Saturday night.

“We’ve played in blizzards and tornadoes, playing in a hurricane will give these guys something to tell their grandkids,” the coach said.

The No. 9 Falcons defeated the Hokies in every match of a four-game series last fall with the 1st XV winning 55–12.