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September 21, 2023

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BGSU Rugby takes two games from West Virginia

BG took a pair of 44-16 and 54-17 victories against West Virginia University in a cross-conference home game Saturday.

The matches were a late addition to the schedule when both clubs found a mutual open weekend.

”We had actually been trying to work up a date for several years and we finally got it going last spring,” said Roger Mazzarella, director of rugby.

BG stopped in Morgantown in March on the tail end of its spring tour and the 13-12 nail-biter was the most trouble any college club gave the Falcons that 2012-2013 year until they ran into Lindenwood at the Nationals.

”When our Sept. 21 date opened up they were the first team I called,” Mazzarella said.

To ease the travel burden the BG players put up their WVU counterparts and hosted a buffet style cookout before the Mountaineers made the trek back home.

WVU let it be known right from the start that it had not lost much from the last meeting by quickly scoring a try off the opening kickoff to take a 5-0 lead. But with the classic stiff flatland wind in their face, the Mountaineers had considerable trouble with the kicking game. Tactical kicks often went nowhere or sideways while penalties rarely gained much ground.

The Falcons then proceeded to slowly build a 19-5 lead. Eight man Bryan Kean scored a try on a short yardage play from the scrum, wing Nolan Cavano finished a 50 yarder up the sideline and prop Dane Szente took one in off a lineout. Szente also converted two kicks out of his three tries.

West Virginia wasn’t finished as they put together a magnificent 27 phase string of rugby that was matched by an equally magnificent defensive stand from BG that kept the Mountaineers out of the end zone.

“Our defensive stand showed a lot of individual resolve on the part of our players,” Mazzarella said. “Had West Virginia scored to end the half that would been a huge momentum shift. At the same time, that was quite an impressive bit of ball control rugby on their part.”

Notice had been served, however, and WVU landed two penalties and punched in another try to get right back into the game at the start of the second half, down just 19-16. But just as quick as the game’s momentum had shifted it shifted again. As if to say, “that’s enough of this” the Falcon offense roared back to life and punched in 25 unanswered points.

Cavano scored twice more and was joined in the end zone by wings Ryan Koenig and Steve Fritsch. Szente, battling the wind, converted only one of those tries but also added a penalty kick.

”We kept ourselves in it for 55 minutes and came out strong in the second half,” stated WVU coach Richard Glover. “We certainly put ourselves in a position to win, but BG’s superior fitness made all the difference in the end.”

In the second match wing Sam Polzin reeled off four tries on runs averaging 75 yards each, flanker Rick Suda wing added a pair and wing Cole Shaffer hit on five of six conversion attempts.

BG is now 12-0 over the Mountaineers.

BG is now 8-0 and 2-0 in the Mid-American Conference, which the Falcons have dominated for 30 years.

West Virginia starts their Keystone Conference league play next week and will host St. Joseph University. BG returns to league play where they are already 2-0 and will be hosting the University of Cincinnati.

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