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2nd Sees Davenport Past WJU

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2nd Sees Davenport Past WJU

Davenport University’s 39-10 defeat of Wheeling Jesuit was notable partly because the Grand Rapids, Mich. team knocked off a ranked opponent, but also that they did it without their captain and arguably best player, Angus MacLellan, who was at the ARC with the USA team.

For Head Coach James Wood, the victory was notable because his team rebounded from a difficult first 40 minutes. WJU ran out to a 7-0 lead with a try from Alan Hansen before JP Eloff opened the Panthers’ account with a kick. Eventually Davenport started playing somewhat better and Knute O’Donnell’s try five minutes before the break put his side ahead 13-10 (with Eloff’s conversion).

That didn’t seem to harbinger a scoring explosion in the second half, but that’s exactly what we got, with Gabe Sochanek scoring twice and Dominique Bailey and William Datullo each touching down, while Eloff converted three of the four tries.

“It just started to come together,” said Wood. “It seems like in recent games we’ve not come out for the second half very well. This time, it was the first half where we didn’t start well, so we talked to the players about getting a jump on the second half. They did a good job there and you can see the results.”

It all came down to communication, said Wood. The players began to talk more, and as a result began to work together more. That got them on the front foot, and things rolled from there. Davenport benefitted from a strong game from Eloff, who has been dealing with injuries but seems close to 100% now, while flanker Bailey and hooker/flanker Conor Schilling were very strong. Stepping in for MacLellan was sophomore Arnolds Ruperts out of Rockford, Mich. The young prop, whose brother, Andrejs, is also a prop for Davenport, handled the job at tight head well, said Wood, in difficult circumstances.

Davenport now looks ahead to their final game of the fall, thins coming Saturday night at Lindenwood. It caps off a hugely challenging fall for the Panthers, where they faced University of Western Ontario twice, McMaster University, and five straight ranked American opponents in Penn State, Bowling Green, Arkansas State, Wheeling Jesuit, and finally Lindenwood. The Panthers are currently 4-3.