Racing to get a game in before the Midwest's next scheduled major snow event, Bowling Green downed Ohio State 55-15 in BGSU's Doyt Perry Football Stadium. 342 fans bought tickets to see intrastate powerhouses slug it out until the Falcons cracked open a close game midway through the first half.
With OSU head coach Ron Bowers unable to attend, longtime Buckeye mentor and now Director of Rugby Tom Rooney found himself back on the sidelines calling the shots.
The match was the first of a pair of tough outings for the Buckeyes as they gear up for the Big Ten semi-finals the first week of April. Ohio State travels to Chicago next week to take on Notre Dame. Bowling Green, having already punched their ticket to the National Championship, will host another Big Ten semi-finalist, Indiana, next week.
"It was great to see Tom on the sideline again, but I do think both of us like our new status as the old guys that have seen it all, and done it all," stated former BG coach and now Director of Rugby for the Falcons Roger Mazzarella. "I had to call the shots for my son (head coach Tony) two weeks ago at West Virginia and I nearly that one slip away," he added.
Playing in BG's football stadium may become a regular event for the Falcons as they have forged a good working relationship with the BGSU Athletic Department. "The field was a little narrow but I think everyone was happy to get out of the mud and play in a first class venue," Mazzarella said.
After keeping it close for a good chunk of the first half and with BG leading only 5-3 on the strength of a Nolan Cavano try, the Falcons broke the game open and scored four tries and three conversions before Ohio State managed a try and conversion in the last second of the half to end it with BG up 31-10. Scoring for BG were flanker Justin Stevens, eight man Bryan Kean, center and captain Mike Ziegler and fullback Matt Marquette. Prop Dane Szente did all of BG's kicking for points.
The Falcons immediately made up for the OSU try as Ziegler, flanker Mike Viancourt and prop Alex Garnaut punched in scores while Szente added two more conversions and a penalty.
“We've had to dodge the frozen ground, freezing rain and snow just like everyone else in the Midwest so we spent the week working on situational tactics,” said BG head coach Tony Mazzarella. “A change from the whole team, whole field drills and I think that paid off big for us.
“We're still a little dinged up in the backfield but the forwards certainly made up for any deficiencies with some absolutely ferocious play.”
“In one sense the game is no different that all the other 150 times we've played each other over the past 45 years – a tough, gritty, knock-down, drag out, take no prisoners cat fight,” said the older Mazzarella.
“What has changed is the context in which the game is played off the field – recruiting, prestige in the college rugby world, national rankings and even the heating up Big Ten versus MAC rivalry.”
Bowling Green 55
Tries: Cavano, Kean, Stevens, Ziegler (2), Marquette, Viancourt, Garnaut,
Cons: Szente (4)
Ohio State 15