Bonnies earn draw with
Coming off of a momentous 29-17 win over defending league
champion Stony Brook, the Army Black Knights were primed to run away with the
Empire Rugby Conference. However, with the Bonnies playing for their playoff
lives, neither team could claim a decisive victory along the Banks of the
Allegheny River, finishing with a 15-15 tie.
“We were glad to play a complete match for 80 minutes,” said
seventh-year head coach Clarence Picard. “We made too many mistakes to earn the win, so we
will have to live with the draw and try to improve next week."
After the Bonnies lost to Binghamton to finish September –
with captains Alex Brussard and Evan Meister on the sideline – the home team
was determined to turn its season around. Led by numerous long runs by Man of
the Match John Sullivan, as well as strong play from the entire forward pack,
the Bonnies got out to a quick start on Sunday, leading 10-0 at halftime.
The Bonnies' first score came when Sullivan took a pass from
scrumhalf Kevin McCorry on the right side of a scrum, and sliced through the
Cadets defense before being tackled deep in the attacking half. A series of
phases by the forwards worked the ball into the corner. McCorry picked up the
ball from a quick ruck and drew a defender before offloading to captain Meister
for the opening try.
It was the forwards who earned the second try. Army
penalties helped the Bonnies keep the early pressure on. A lineout maul worked
the ball within five meters, and freshman prop Zach Haller did the rest,
scoring his third try of the season.
“I was really proud of Haller and the entire front row,”
said forward coach Mike McNerney. “They had to prove themselves in the scrum
against a tough Army squad, and they got the job done.”
Picard and McNerney cited improved play in the scrums
for the improved results versus Army.
The Bonnies continued to control the first 35 minutes of the
match, but the Black Knights were able to gain some momentum – if not any
points – before the first stanza concluded.
The Black Knights made the most of their momentum to start
the half. Thanks to a series of hard runs by their bruising pack, Army worked
the ball deep into Bona territory before second rowman Morgan Cole charged
through to score his first try of the match. Blake Hunnewell converted to make
the score 10-7.
Refocused on the task at hand, the Bonnies began to play in
the Army half of the field. A Black Knight kick failed to find touch at
midfield, finding its way into freshman fly half Chuck Meagher’s hands. Meagher
pushed up field and fed the ball outside to Sullivan, who did the rest.
Breaking two tackles and outracing the rest of the Army defense, Sullivan
dotted down for the first time this year, giving the Bonnies a 15-7 lead.
“We weren’t sure how Sully would do at fullback, but boy did
he play a heck of a match,” said backline coach, and former Bonnie fullback,
Steve Blaske. “All season Sully has been the guy to make a run when we needed
to get going, so I was glad he finally finished one for himself on Sunday.”
Undaunted by Sullivan’s quick stike, Army went back to their
forward play. Several long runs, and a few penalties for offsides, again put
Cole in striking distance. The big lock picked up the ball from a ruck and went
straight through the Bona defense, bringing the score within three points,
Not to be outdone, the Bonnies worked the ball downfield,
but failed to capitalize on numerous opportunities. An Army penalty goal from
Hunnewell with two minutes left tied the match. The Bonnies had a final chance
to win, but a mishandled lineout at the 22 meter line gave Army the ball, and
the Black Knights were happy to kick the ball to touch and take the 15-15 tie.
St. Bonaventure (15)
Meister, Zach Haller, John Sullivan
Kevin McCorry 0-3
Blake Hunnewell 1-2