Rowan rugby dropped a key conference game against West Chester this weekend 22-20.
The Profs began the game brightly and dominated field position through accurate tactical kicking from halfbacks Casey Smith and Hunter Musson. The entire squad took advantage of the field position by pouring on defensive pressure which turned into an early 3-0 lead. The field position dominance continued and led to a yellow card against West Chester. Soon after, the first try of the match was scored by Morgan Watt (continuing his streak of scoring a try in every match this season). Musson converted and the Profs held a 10-0 lead. Despite keeping a strangle hold on field position (West Chester did not cross midfield into Prof territory until 22 minutes had elapsed in the half. However, Rowan failed to convert the man advantage and territorial dominance into further points.
The second half began well with Musson kicking another penalty goal to extend the lead to 13-0. All looked well for Rowan, but bad habits began to creep back into the team. Off the kickoff, Rowan failed to field the ball cleanly and lost possession. Suddenly West Chester was on the attack deep in Prof territory without having generating anything in attack all game. Defensive ill discipline led to penalties coming thick and fast until Rowan found a man in the sin bin. West Chester scored a converted try under the posts.
Despite the set back, Rowan responded off the kickoff by regaining possession and launching attacks into the Golden Rams territory. The backs sliced through the West Chester defense and fullback, Ethan Mabilog, scored under the posts. Musson converted and the score was 20-5.
For the remaining 20 minutes, Rowan demonstrated a lack of poise and the penalty count mounted steeply against the Profs. They could not seem to stop the momentum building in West Chester’s favor. The structured first half play gave way to a splintered effort by 15 players struggling to maintain cohesion. As the first yellow card expired and Rowan returned to full strength, another Prof was sent from the field for a high tackle. West Chester sensed that Rowan was vulnerable and seized their opportunity by scoring 17 unanswered points to claim the victory.
This was a bitter loss for the Profs, but they will have two more opportunities to learn from this game when the visit Pitt on Saturday and host Temple the following week.