Davenport defeated Wheeling Jesuit 22-7 Saturday in Wheeling, W. Va to finish third in the Rugby East. The result makes the Panthers 1-2 in fall conference play and drops the Cardinals to 0-3. This season marks Davenport’s first playing in the Rugby East and Wheeling’s first in DI-A altogether.
On a damp afternoon on the athletic fields at Oglebay Resort, both the Cardinals and Panthers had trouble with a slippery ball and soft pitch. The conditions played to WJU’s strengths, however, with their forwards putting in a gritty and workman-like performance.
“I can’t say enough about how hard our forwards worked out there today, but you can’t win a game with only eight guys,” said WJU head coach Eric Jerpe. “There are several players on this young team who recognize what it takes to play at the nation’s highest level, and are rising to the challenge. As we develop, our entire team will need to play with the same heart and intensity our forwards did today. I’m very proud of them.”
It would be the Cardinals who would get on the board first when openside flanker Allan Hanson, the sophomore out of Cape Girardeau, Mo., intercepted an errant DU pass and sprinted 60 meters untouched give the Cardinals a shot of confidence in the early stages of the match. Captain Luke Titus converted to put Wheeling up 7-0 after six minutes of play.
Davenport would not be held out for long, however, and Panthers hooker Gabe Sochanek powered over for a try to even the score line at 7-7.
DU’s Mike Houston, a former High School All-American, showed his experience with a pair of tries on the day. He touched down his first just before halftime, making it 12-7 at the break.
Also getting into the score column for DU was JP Eloff, the All-American flyhalf who recently returned from Shanghai, on tour with the Tiger Olympic Development Academy. Eloff was contained well by the Cardinal defense and kept out of the end zone, but kicked a penalty in the 50th minute to put DU up 15-7. Houston added his second try of the day in the 62nd minute, which brought the score line to 22-7 where it would stay for the duration of the match.
The Cardinals had two big opportunities to get back in the scoring column that went begging. In both cases the ball had made its way out to the edge of the field with a WJU winger put into space, but the slippery ball squirted through the hands of the receiver both times for what would have been two walk-in tries that could have potentially won the game for the Cardinals.
Wheeling Jesuit will finish the fall season on Saturday, Nov 9th in Philadelphia where they will take on American International College (Springfield, Mass.) in a non-conference friendly.
Davenport was playing in the Rugby East only as it pertained to American Collegiate Rugby Championship qualification. The Panthers will play in the Mid-South in the spring, with Lindenwood, Life and Arkansas State.