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About That Tie Between Kentucky and Ohio State

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About That Tie Between Kentucky and Ohio State

Kentucky vs Ohio State from Saturday. Cassie Redden photography

One of the more interesting results of the weekend in men's college rugby was Kentucky's tie with Ohio State.

For Kentucky, this was actually a chance lost, as the Wildcats held a solid lead through the first half. Controlling possession and territory, and played some attractive, open rugby. The Wildcats led 17-3 at one point, punishing some Ohio State penalties and also finding some space as Jared Monnier and Dom Rosson got over the tryline.

Ohio State started to nail down their rucking and with a better forward effort, Kyle Momenee was over.

In the second half Ohio State looked to pin Kentucky back, but caught a bit of bad luck (or was it Kentucky good luck) when clearance kick bounced around the midfield. The OSU player coming in to field the kick slipped, and then slipped again trying to get his legs under him. Too late, as Gavin James raced in to grab the ball on a high bounce and run in for the Wildcats try. Jack Phillips converted and it was 24-10 for Kentucky.

From then on the game was more to Ohio State's liking. Lock Bryn Watkins stretched over after a long period of pressure at the goalline, and Conor Forrestal converted to make it 24-17. But that try was perhaps part of the problem, as the Buckeyes took too long to converted pressure into points. Time was running out.

Understanding that captain Vince Carso produced a wild run, sidestepping and squirming through four defenders to go in from about 20 meters out. Forrestal converted and suddenly it was 24-24.

Carso and Forrestal then had a decision to make, as OSU came back on the attack and got a penalty right in front of the posts. Should they take the lineout? Well, it's the middle of the field. Should they tap and go? No element of surprise. Kick for points? In the end it was a no-brainer—Forrestal kicked the goal and it was 27-24.

For many teams that are working on an upset, when they finally fall behind, it's actually very easy to implode and just accept the inevitable. to their credit, Kentucky kept at it, event when they had to play some more defense. Once the Wildcats got the ball back they attacked into OSU territory and went through 12 phases inside the Buckeyes' 22. This movement was all started when flanker Wyatt Kelley grabbed a lineout overthrow and bulled through a pile of OSU defenders to drag his side 15 meters forward.

Ohio State's defense was solid and a couple of key Kentucky passes were a bit slow, making it easier on the defense. But Ohio State were offside in front of the posts, and this was another no-brainer. Phillips put the kick over to tie the game 27-27.

That was the final play of the game, and Kentucky didn't have the win, but they had the tie. Ohio State, injury-hit as they are, saw a few other players go down. Hard-hitting flanker Nick Zolikoff, who has been battling knocks all fall, went down but eventually told the trainers to leave him along and went back into the fray. The Buckeyes, really, should feel they did well to come back and get the tie.

For Kentucky, also hit by injuries, Head Coach Sam Enari shook his head. "We've got to clean up opportunities," he said, adding, "we are still learning how to finish off games, even if we  have to go deep in the bench."

And the other thing is that this is more evidence about how, D1A or D1AA or whatever, the SCRC and Big 10 or very close in terms of the types of teams and the types of games they produce. Rarely is there a blowout between these two, and while talk of a series of bowl games between these conference haven't yet borne fruit, they should.

Fill game here: