St. Bonaventure as good as clinched 1st place in the Empire West DI college league with a 28-25 victory over SUNY Binghamton.
As a result of the game, Bonnies moves to 6-1, with 33 standings points. Binghamton is second at 4-2 with 24. Binghamton has a makeup game Sunday and then both teams play next week. If St. Bonaventure loses and Binghamton gets bonus-point wins in the final two matches, Binghamton can take 1st.
If the two teams tie on points, Binghamton will have had to make up 87 points in points difference.
"It was a battle," said St. Bonaventure Head Coach Clarence Picard, who put out a team minus captain Nick Mauer, who is injured. "When we were going well, we handled their big forwards. We were able to get off the line quickly at times and get low and take them down. But they kept pounding and got some tries. Overall, our defense was strong, but little mistakes hurt us."
Binghamton led 10-3 midway through the second half before a try and a penalty put St. Bonaventure up to stay.
"There was a stretch in the middle 20 minutes of the first half where we didn't do a very good job with territory and possession, and we thought if we could get back to the game plan of getting into their half and controlling field position, we'd be OK."
It worked. led by a sterling forward effort, especially flanker Jon Garbin, lock forward Chris Schott, and prop Alex Brussard, Bonvanture is one step closer to a national playoff spot.
"We know they need to get full points on their games," said Picard. "We play Brockport next week and they are tough. So they will be tough. We will just concentrate on getting the points we need to."