Goff Rugby Twitter     Goff Rugby Facebook

Illinois State, Northern Iowa to Great Midwest Final

irish rugby tours

Illinois State, Northern Iowa to Great Midwest Final

Illinois State is in to the GMW final.

The South division of the Great Midwest Conference shook things up with Northern Iowa and Illinois State both winning semifinals Saturday.

That sets up a championship final November 6 in Cottage Grove, Wisc., while Wisconsin-Whitewater and Marquette will battle for this.

UNI's high-flying offense flew high enough with a 33-17 defeat of Whitewater, while it was Illinois State's defense that shut down Marquette 15-10.

For Illinois State, this was a huge accomplishment for a player-coached team. Co-captains Tom Nevara and Tom Canova have taken on the coaching responsibilities, with Nevara coaching the backs and Canova the forwards. Meanwhile, Eric Jones has stepped in as a set piece and offensive structure coach.

"Defensively it’s a full team effort," said Nevara. "Marquette moved the ball outside a lot but we were willing to give up meters to make the tackle and contest the ball." 

The coaches also were active on the field, with Nevara getting four jackals and forcing two penalties at the tackle. Canova and Jones were ever-present on defense while Matt Feeney was a wall on defense, but had to leave the game injured.

On attack, Nevara said it was Jones that had changed things for them. Since their lone loss of the season, to Northern Iowa, they reshaped their attack.

"Credit for our offensive structure goes to Eric Jones," said Nevara.

No. 8 Cade Kerns scored a try and flyhalf Dan Huber scored two—Huber stepping into the pivot role after an injury—and that was all they needed.