STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Wheeling Jesuit’s Rugby team ended a four game road trip with a 29-24 win over Penn State Nittany Lions B-side in Happy Valley, PA.
The WJU Rugby program, in its first year of competition as a varsity sport, fielded a team comprised mostly of freshman. Similarly, Division 1 powerhouse Penn State’s B-side was comprised mostly of young talent, boasting two high school All-Americans, giving the crowd a glimpse into the exciting future for the Cardinals.
Heading home for its final two matches, WJU’s record of 3-1-1 includes A-sides matches with #18 ranked University of Maryland, the West Virginia University Mountaineers, and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Wheeling Jesuit rode the wave of a strong second half comeback to recover from a 10-point first half deficit to take the five point victory over PSU.
Wheeling Jesuit Head Coach Eric Jerpe was pleased by his team’s performance.
“This was a good step in the right direction for our young team today,” said Jerpe “Penn State is one of the top rugby programs in the country, and has produced many National Team players. The fact that our guys played tough, hard-nosed rugby and earned a victory on the road speaks volumes about our potential.”
Standouts for the Cardinals included freshman Wardell Ham-Gadson (Philadelphia, Pa.) who powered over the try line from 20 meters out to score the opening points for WJU. Equally impressive was freshman John Stapleton (Sidney, Aus.) who managed the game well from the flyhalf position and kicked two extra-point conversions for four points.
The Cardinals return to campus next week from a month-long road trip to take on Notre Dame College of Ohio on Homecoming. Coach Jerpe added that the win and a 3-1-1 record give the Cardinals great momentum as they head back to Wheeling.
“We’ve had a great week of training, and it showed on the field today,” said Jerpe. “We’re going to continue to work hard and develop as a team so we are firing on all cylinders for next week, and learn from this experience so when our boys are seniors, we will be among the top talent in the country. We’re going to be a really exciting program for our fans to watch.”
Following the homecoming match against Notre Dame College, Wheeling will finish their season at home versus John Carroll College on Oct 27th.