Saturday’s matches in the Bowling Green regional of the DI Round of 16 were not close affairs. Both host Bowling Green and Florida put big scores on their opponents, setting up a very intriguing Sunday quarterfinal.
Bowling Green was considered the heavy favorite in this pool, but perhaps not expected to beat Temple by as large of a margin as they did – 64-5. The Falcons backs ran roughshod over Temple, who was without star Gareth Jones.
Jones was due back from his semester abroad in time to play this weekend, but the decision makers at Munster asked him to stick around a little while longer to discuss his future, so no one’s faulting Jones for his absence. Even if the Owls were bolstered by Jones, it’s unlikely they’d have been in a much better position to down BGSU.
Flyhalf Nick Viviani, who bagged a try, seven conversions and a penalty, led the way for Bowling Green. The backs did the majority of the scoring, but BGSU’s forwards won a lot of possession at the breakdown.
Temple had its opportunities to score, but kept stubbing their toe, and every time the Owls mis-stepped, Bowling Green was there to take advantage.
“They had a lot of opportunities, and they just killed themselves with a bad pass, a dropped pass here and there, and if you get a couple points you start to stay even, make a game of it, but it seemed like every time they made a mistake we capitalized on it, and you could see the discouragement.”
A similar snowball effect saw Florida beat Maryland 57-16. Florida coach Ken Simmons said Maryland actually had an advantage in the pack, but the Gators boasted too potent of a backline, “They beat us in the lineouts, challenged our scrums, gave us a really good game, but we eventually just wore them down.”
Leading the charge defensively for Florida was scrumhalf Will Grieves, who put a lot of pressure on potent Maryland No. 8 Richard Hwang when he picked at the back of the scrum. UF’s offensive charge was sparked by prop Darrell Beckley, who scored three tries on the day.
Simmons was able to watch Bowling Green Saturday, and he knows where his game plan has to start for Sunday’s elimination match.
“We’ve got to make sure we handle our own in our pack, and the biggest thing is containing Viviani and their centers,” he said. “If we can do that, I think we’ve got a shot.”