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Lessons, Harbingers in Davenport v L-B Result

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Lessons, Harbingers in Davenport v L-B Result

Steven Zomberg photo.

Davenport University defeated Lindenwood-Belleville this past weekend 38-15 in a game that told us much about both teams.

For Davenport, it was a nice, encouraging victory after the two-point loss to Notre Dame College. The Panthers looked quite solid and in control, punching in tries after some tenacious Lynx defense at the tryline. Despite it being wet and chilly, Davenport stuck to the task impressively.

Photos Steven Zomberg.

Dominique Bailey scored two tries and Nick Priest, Mike Houston, Connor Schilling, and Drew Boatright all did so once. The game itself appeared fairly event in terms of possession and territory, but Davenport made their chances bear fruit, leading 17-0 in the first half before Kristian Poletti scored for Lindenwood-Belleville.

The Lynx got two more late when Davenport was down a man due to a yellow card.

Overall, Davenport looked pretty snappy despite the wet weather, while Lindenwood-Belleville certainly learned a lot about surviving against a top team in difficult conditions. They learned a lot about dealing with a good kicking game (thanks in part to Noah Zomberg). And they hung in there.

"This schedule was put together for a reason," said Lindenwood-Belleville Head Coach Pat Clifton. "Our short-term goal is improving as fast as we can, our mid-term goal is winning a DIAA national championship, and our long-term goal is to be the best team in the nation, regardless of division or postseason affiliation. Playing these types of teams has provided us the best possible pathway to ticking all three boxes. The amount we've improved this fall, and not just from the beginning of preseason or since our first real match a month ago, but week to week, is incredible."

This game was also perhaps a preview of what could be a new DIA conference next year. With Notre Dame College and Lindenwood-Belleville playing an independent DIAA schedule this year, both are looking for a conference for next season. Davenport is frustrated with having to play the bulk of their Mid-South season (OK, all of it) in the winter and spring, when snow remains on the ground in Michigan. This seems to be Midwest match made in heaven, and if they can entice a couple more teams within acceptable driving distance, we could see a realignment and a new DIA conference that plays in the fall.

As it stands, Davenport showed they are building toward something, while Lindenwood-Belleville is right on the edge with regard to that coveted DIAA playoff spot. What seems likely is that there will be one independent playoff spot in the fall, and two teams - L-B and Notre Dame College - vying for it.

This result against Davenport has meaning for that, too, as Notre Dame College beat Davenport 26-24, and Lindenwood-Belleville lost to Davenport 36-15. That's not a perfect predictor of who is the better team, but NDC has beaten Wheeling Jesuit, St. Bonaventure, Navy (!), and Davenport. Lindenwood-Belleville has beaten Tennessee and Spring Hill, and lost to WJU, Arkansas State, and Davenport.

Fortunately, all will be decided in November. On November 5, Lindenwood-Belleville will play Notre Dame College near Chicago on the morning before New Zealand plays Ireland. So, yes, the All Blacks v Ireland is a big game, but it is likely all on the line in the college game that morning.