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Penn Over Fishers In Dramatic Fashion

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Penn Over Fishers In Dramatic Fashion

Heather Gollatz-Dukeman photo.

In a clash of two top-10 HS teams, Penn HS edged Fishers 28-25 in Rugby Indiana league play over the weekend.

The game was slated to be played at Fishers, but weather made that field unplayable, and so Fishers Rugby requested the game be moved to Penn's fields in Elkhart, Ind. That accommodation made, the game was on and both teams brought the physicality. 

"We knew this was a big game," said Penn Head Coach Bart Bottorff. "And it turned out to be exactly that, Fishers were very good last year and this year they're better. They are big and physical."

Fishers exploited an early Penn mistake to secure the ball inside the opposing 22, run through a few phases, and score in the early minutes. Penn responded by gaining possession after the restart and tying the game 7-7. It was that sort of contest.

Penn took the lead 14-12, but Fishers rebounded, and at halftime it was 22-21 Fishers.

"Both defenses played very hard in the second half," said Bottorff. "That forced some mistakes, but it was just back-and-forth all day."

Fishers managed a penalty goal to take a 25-21 lead. Then, with only two minutes remaining, Penn forced a turnover and went to work. They ran about 16 phases, during which Fishers was penalized three times. With time up on the clock, Penn was able to punch in the try and convert to secure the 28-25 win.

"We knew that if we made any mistake the game would be over," said Bottorff. "They showed a lot of patience. We're disappointed that we couldn’t do the the things we wanted to do in the second half. But to have the patience to go through 16 to 18 phases in the final minute is pretty impressive. Of course, for Fishers defended for all of those phases, too, and did a really nice job.

"I'd say its how two pretty good programs should play," said Fishers Head Coach John Harley. "It was down to the wire. That last goal line stand seemed to last forever."

Leading the way for Penn were No. 8 Alex Kennach, who scored two tries, and flyhalf Cian Messner, who ran the attack nicely and was a perfect 4-for-4 on conversions.

For Fishers, flanker Eric Thomas made several line breaks, was strong on defene, and scored two tries. Scurmhalf Donovan Riley worked nicely with flyhalf Jack Phillips, who scored ten points with the boot. Center Matt Hohlt also scored a try.

Next up for Penn is Bishop Dwenger, while Fishers takes on Royal Irish.

Penn is just off a tour of England, where they visited several cultural and historical landmarks, attend a practice at Gloucester Rugby, and also see Bath play Bristol at Twickenham. they played Cokethorpe School, Burford, Crypt, St. Lawrence, and the Oxfordshire Harlequins in a series of 7s matches, and the players stayed with host families, getting a taste of life as an English student.