Falcons rugby wins NCAA record 32 MAC conference championships

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Nolan Cavano evades a defender for a long run this past Saturday against Miami University.

Zack Carreon and Zack Carreon

Despite a slow start, the BG men’s rugby team still managed to dominate Miami University 63-12 to win another MAC championship.

Saturday’s win secured the Falcon’s 32nd straight conference championship, making it the longest consecutive string of conference championships of any sport at any level in NCAA history.

The Falcons played in front of a large crowd of students and supporters on a windy day at Bowling Green’s rugby pitch.

“It was one of my greatest experiences as a rugby player here,” said captain Dane Szente. “The biggest crowd I’ve ever seen at a home rugby game was here. The Falcon Fanatics showed up, the Bleacher Creatures showed up and SIC SIC showed up. There wasn’t a single open seat in the bleachers we have back there and we still had plenty of people standing just to watch.”

When the match started, BG put a quick 10 points on the board with a score off a maul close to the try zone and another try from a long run by fullback Matt Marquette.

Miami was able to get a try of their own early on, tightening the score to 10-5.

Later in the half, freshman Sean McFarland and wing Ryan Koenig touched down a pair of tries and hooker Mike Brown also scored. Two kick conversions from prop Dane Szente gave the Falcons a 29-5 lead at half time.

Even with the first half lead, head coach Tony Mazzarella still wanted to see more from his players.

“For some reason we were really slow to the rucks and we were giving up penalties, including a yellow card,” Mazzarella said. “We just didn’t play particularly well.”

BG pulled ahead even more in the second half with Matt Marquette and Mike Brown adding two more tries.

Wing Nolan Cavano brought the crowd to life by evading tacklers and running all over the pitch for an 80-meter scamper to the try zone.

Wing Steve Fritsch subbed and tallied another score. Flanker Justin Stevens put the Miami defenders in the spin cycle on his way to the end zone making the score 56-5.

Miami managed to get another try along with a conversion kick to give themselves 12 points, but a score by freshman fly half Teddy Terezis and two second half conversion kicks from Szente despite the strong wind secured the 63-12 victory for the Falcons.

“For me this win was huge,” said Director of rugby, Roger Mazzarella, who followed the game closely via Twitter while in Palermo, Sicily. “Miami has always been the team to beat for me personally. It is the result of a lot of hard work and personal commitment from every guy on the 1st XV right down to the freshmen on the 3rd XV.”

With Saturday’s win, BG is now 7-0 in the Mid American Conference and 24-0 overall. The Falcons now look to extend their season with a win against next week’s opponent and Big Ten champion, Indiana.