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Confidence-Boosting Win for Fighting Irish on a Friday Night

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Confidence-Boosting Win for Fighting Irish on a Friday Night

Notre Dame finally closed out a game.



University of Notre Dame defeated Bowling Green 29-7.

This game was played as the Parseghian Cup match Friday night at Notre Dame raising money for the Ara Parseghian Medical Research Fund.

Notre Dame scored early off a little bit of broken play. A UND pass went behind some players and Bowling Green’s defense over-pursued. Fighting Irish prop Tom Bohman snagged the ball and burst up the middle for about 25 meters before offloading to scrumhalf Owen Portelli, who had worked hard to get there in support, and Portelli finished it off.

Flyhalf Ryan Putka slotted the conversion and Notre Dame led 7-0 after less than four minutes. Bowling Green spent a good portion of the next 12 minutes inside the Notre Dame 22. They ran the forwards hard up the middle and eventually lock James Demetropolis was shoved over the line, but the referee ruled he was held up. So, no try for the Falcons.

Notre Dame was able to clear, and then a holding-on penalty was forced by Putka, setting up a Fighting Irish lineout inside the Bowling Green 22. Notre Dame inched closer and then after another penalty, tapped quickly with loosehead prop Chase Pierce powering over.

Both sides had chances after that but the contest at the breakdown made the game into very much a back-and-forth affair. Finally with less than five minutes left in the first half Putka snaked through a gap and raced 50 meters, selling a couple of sidesteps on the way. He was caught, but the tackle was high and the freshman flyhalf put the penalty over the bar to make it 15-0 Notre Dame.

Notre Dame pressed their advantage early in the second half, Pressure from the Irish forced a penalty. They took the lineout, and a powerful carry from No. 8 Patrick McKenzie got them close to the tryline. Hooker Matt Williams picked up and took it strong to the line to score Notre Dame’s third try of the evening. 

Putka converted and Notre Dame led 22-0.

Bowling Green responded right after that. They took a lineout off a penalty and then worked the phases. Finally No. 8 Phil Tracey powered to the line. He was tackled as he went over, but the tackle was high and it ended up being a penalty try. Now the score was 22-7.

Scoring slowed down after that. Bowling Green was still plagued by penalties at bad times. Notre Dame put them under the kosh with some good, hard running and nice offloads down the sideline. But being over-eager in trying to get the turnover the Falcons were penalized, giving UND another attacking lineout. The forwards bashed it close and then off the ruck Bohman made it a try for every front-rower. Putka converted to make it 29-7.

About 22 minutes remained in the game but there was no more scoring. Still it was a very good result for the Fighting Irish. Bohman was a force all day, making several big breaks and working hard overall. Putka had an influence on every point scored for Notre Dame.

For Bohman, this was his third game of rugby, ever, and he certainly made a statement.

Pierce was also outstanding at prop while vica captainsMichael McClamroch at lockand Cam Teza at center were influential as well.

"It’s been a challenging fall to say the least," said Notre Dame Head Coach Justin Hickey. "We held second-half leads in four out of our last five matches and failed to close out wins, losing twice on the final play of the match. A couple of unlucky breaks, but too many self inflicted wounds; mistakes and lack of execution in critical areas and critical moments. It certainly led to a lot of soul searching the last couple of weeks. But the focus remained the same—nail the basics, keep it simple, stop over-analyzing, and execute."

Notre Dame simplified some of the aspects of their attack and worked a bit more on how set piece works in each part of the field. All of that gave the Fighting Irish more confidence to execute.

 We simplified some things with our attack the last couple weeks, with greater clarity in our set piece zone to zone and I think that allowed us to play with some more confidence.

"Credit to BGSU, we have a great deal of respect for Roger and Tony and the program they have there. They’re always a physical side that is capable of playing and expansive game," added Hickey, who pointed to that long defensive stand in the first half which ended with the ball held up, and then was turned around into a try moments later for Notre Dame, as a key turning point.

That try, he said, "felt like a big momentum shift," as it turned the score from potentially 7-7 to 12-0. "I felt like we were able to keep control of the match from that point on. But again, credit to our defense who was under a ton of pressure in the second half with a lot of territory and possession for Bowling Green. It was Undoubtedly our cleanest performance. Finally, executing the basics well, strong play at the breakdown, and a fundamental kicking game contributed to the win. To beat a team like BGSU, who I consider a Midwest rugby blue blood, is a great confidence-booster heading into our fall break and ahead of Big 10 playoffs."


Notre Dame 29
Tries: Portelli, Pierce, Williams, Bohman
Convs: Putka 3
Pens: Putka

Bowling Green 7
Tries: Penalty Try
Convs: Penalty Try