LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Davenport and Lindenwood had been scheduled to end the Mid-South season against one another April 8, but when the two teams discovered their final regular season fixture was likely to be a precursor to a April 15 rematch in the Opening Round of the D1A Rugby Playoffs, the two rivals decided to make this past weekend’s contest a win-or-go-home scenario.
As a result, the Lions will forge on in the D1A Rugby playoffs thanks to a 36-14 win over the Panthers.
Davenport, which has managed to match its Mid-South opponents early in games despite its winless record, took an early 7-0 lead when Noah Zomberg converted Reece Czarnecki’s try in the 11th minute. Lindenwood would be held off from the scoreboard until the 35th minute when eight man Wesley White dotted down. Soon after fly half Nick Feakes added a second score to send the Lions into the shed leading 10-7 at halftime.
“We were sloppy in the first half,” admitted wing Sam Chapman. “Because of early knock-ons and penalties, we let them hang around much longer than we would have liked.”
Lindenwood would put its foot on the gas in the second half, however, especially Chris Schoeman. The junior lock scored the first three tries of the second period to put the lions up 29-7.
Schoeman’s shift was no doubt a shot in the arm for the team, but Lindenwood credits the adjustments the team made at halftime for its improved second half performance.
“I was proud of our ability at halftime to recognize what we did wrong and come out in the second half and fix those mistakes,” Chapman added.
Davenport matched its first half output when Chase Pego’s try was converted in the 64th minute. The 29-14 scoreline was as close as the Panthers would get and Lindenwood’s Colten Hernandez scored one last try for good measure.
The loss to Lindenwood concludes a disappointing Mid-South season for Davenport. The program had high hopes heading into the season given the strength of its senior class and a victory over Arkansas State in October. Now staring into his first offseason as head coach of the Panthers, Harry King II must find ways to replace prominent seniors Dominique Bailey, Czarnecki, Brady Gent, Michael Houston and Zomberg.
Lindenwood’s season marches on towards familiar territory. The Lions will head to Marietta, Ga. to face No. 2 Life in the Quarterfinals of the D1A Playoffs Saturday, April 15. Lindenwood lost both of its conference matches to the Running Eagles this spring, but gave the defending D1A National Champions its toughest contest of the season to date. Back in February, Lindenwood went to Life University and narrowly fell, 24-18. The Lions wont need any additional motivation heading into its Quarterfinal matchup, as Life has knocked Lindenwood out of the Playoffs each of the past two seasons. Last season’s postseason defeat came in the National Semifinals when the Running Eagles go the better of a visiting Lindenwood side, 41-7.