Different week, but the same story as the Bowling Green Falcons defeated the Northern Illinois Huskies 52-33 Saturday.
It seems that no matter the team you put on the pitch against the Falcons, the end result is a lopsided, at least on the scoreboard, victory. In their first two MAC games of the season, Bowling Green has outscored their opponents 87-38.
“Make no mistake, Northern Illinois is a very good team,” Bowling Green’s Roger Mazzarella said. “That score definitely doesn’t reflect how they played and what they were able to put together against us. This team is for real.”
Despite the dominant reputation of their opponent, Northern Illinois simply went out and played their game and jumped to an early 12-0 lead. Mazzarella said NIU looked really good and put Bowling Green in a gut check situation.
“They came out and popped us straight in the mouth with very aggressive play,” he said. “They really forced the guys to rethink their approach to the game and hunker down.”
Bowling Green’s solution; gather the troops for a pep talk. After the second score, Captain Mike Ziegler grouped everyone together under the posts saying they needed to get back to playing their brand of rugby.
It worked. As Bowling Green finally found their way to the scoreboard via scrumhalf Mike Powell with a penalty, that seemed to light a fire for the Falcons.
Before NIU had to time to react, Bowling Green had reeled off 17 unanswered points with scores from lock Mike Treon and wing Nolan Cavanop. Cavanop’s try was setup off a 50 yard run from new fullback Mitch Sora who dished it off to Cavanop.
“Sora did a great job of coming in and taking over a position he had never played,” Mazzarella said. “He plays flyhalf for us and when our fullback went down, we decided to go with him because of his knowledge of the game and tackling ability.”
Just before halftime, the scoreboard read 20-15, however NIU got back on the board with a penalty kick for a 20-18 score and a little momentum.
And while both teams had possession and opportunity, it was Bowling Green that made the opportunities pay off.
Lock Alex Garnaut, center Dominic Mauer, hooker Mike Brown and No. 8 Bryan Kean all scored tries as NGSU surged to a 44-21 lead.
NIU kept battling and scored twice to pull within 11. But Brown and Powell polished off all the scoring with a try and penalty kick for a final score of 52-33.
Despite the scoreline, Mazzarella was impressed with NIU.
“Give a lot of credit to NIU, they never gave up and made us work for every single try we had on the day. We’ve still got some work to do, but it was a great match.”
Bowling Green will put their streak on the line next week at home against Ball State. Northern Illinois will have an opportunity to heal up with a bye week then get back on the road against Ball State as well.