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Louisville Upsets Bowling Green; MAC Top 4 Set

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Louisville Upsets Bowling Green; MAC Top 4 Set

Chris Reithmeier for Louisville. Tommy Luc photo.

Louisville secured a spot in the Mid-American Conference playoffs after upsetting Bowling Green 27-18 Saturday.

Bowling Green went into the game the defending USA fall DIAA champs, and ranked #7 by Goff Rugby Report. But Louisville, ranked #21, has been playing some solid rugby, and despite a 40-0 loss to Western Michigan, had every expectation of knocking off the Falcons.

Rookie Dan Hanson scored two tries for the Cardinals while Isaac Bales continued his strong run of form working hard in the breakdowns. 

"The weather was not favorable for our game plan," said Louisville Head Coach Emil Walton. "It was wet and muddy. We play fast, Southern Hemisphere rugby. However, we adapted and played structured forward-oriented rugby and just kept it disciplined."

(Photos above and to the left by Tommy Luc. Click to enlarge. Top, Chris Reithmeier. Left top to bottom, Issac Bales, Kameron Gladney, Dan Hanson.)

With the victory, Louisville improved to 4-1 with 19 points in the standings. Bowling Green dropped to 3-2. 

Western Michigan, meanwhile, holds onto 1st after beating Cincinnati 62-7. Hooker Manny Bravo was strong again while Joey Backe was a big ground-gainer at No. 8. The midfield of Kyle Williams and Noah Brown was imposing as well as the Broncos improved to 5-0. 

So that left only the question of the fourth playoff spot. IUPUI beat Miami University of Ohio soundly, and with Cincinnati's loss to WMU, the two teams were tied on points, But IUPUI has the tiebreaker, and in fact wll win next week's game against Ohio by forfeit.

Ohio's rugby team was swept up in a campus-wide crackdown on club recruiting practices with an eye toward preventing hazing. So the remaining OU games are forfeits.

Here is how the standings sit with one more weekend of games to go. (These are tentative as we are missing at least one result).

Western Michigan 6 0 0 310 47 263 5 0 29
Louisville 5 2 0 278 112 166 5 1 26
Bowling Green 4 2 0 252 87 165 4 1 21
Cincinnati 4 3 0 213 180 33 3 0 19
IUPUI 3 3 0 227 125 102 3 0 15
Dayton 2 4 0 79 222 -143 2 0 10
Ohio 1 5 0 55 214 -159 1 -1 4
Miami (OH) 0 6 0 5 432 -427 0 0 0

IUPUI will end up 4-3 with a bonus point, and so will bypass Cincinnati. Bowling Green is almost assured a win over Miami, and the same goes for WMU over Dayton. So the top four will likely be, in order: Western Michigan, Bowling Green, Louisville, and IUPUI. This is IUPUI's first season in DIAA after moving up from DII.