This weekend, the Binghamton Devils made club history: they brought home their first Empire Rugby Conference Championship. They did it in dramatic fashion, too.
Compared to the inclement weather two weeks ago when Syracuse and Binghamton last met, this past Saturday was a beautiful day. The Hammerheads came out ready to play early in the first half and opened the game’s scoring with a quick 3 points off of a penalty kick close to Binghamton’s try line. Syracuse continued applying pressure to the Binghamton defense and scored the first try of the game after a 5-meter scrum. Then, the Hammerheads slotted another penalty kick to take a 13-0 lead. Binghamton hurt themselves early in the first half by committing too many penalties at the breakdown, but they corrected their mistakes and fought back. The Devils marched down the field by executing clever offloads to extend a string of plays that were capped off by outside center Greg Lenane’s try. The Devils cut the deficit to one score and went into halftime trailing 13-7.
Although Syracuse controlled the ball for most of the first half, Binghamton battled back and owned the second half. The Devils did a much better job controlling the rucks in the second half, and that led to great ball possession. Binghamton attacked Syracuse’s defense for most of the second half. Even though they had trouble punching in a try, the Devils came away with 9 unanswered points to begin the second half off of fly half Brandon Healy’s boot. Near the 60-minute mark, Binghamton took their first lead of the ERC Championship game: 16-13. However, it did not last long as a Syracuse forward broke the line and touched down a try to regain the lead. After a successful conversion, the Hammerheads took a 20-16 lead. The score remained deadlocked until the final minutes. The Devils were driving inside ‘cuse’s 22-meter when wing Hunter Reiter dodged pursuing defenders and touched down the game-winning try. After the ensuing kickoff, Binghamton maintained possession and successfully expired the game clock. After Healy kicked into touch, the referee blew the final whistle and the Binghamton Devils became the 2016 Empire Rugby Conference Champions.
Although they are Conference Champions, the Binghamton rugby season is not over. The Empire Rugby Conference is having a crossover game with the East Coast Rugby Conference this weekend. So, the Devils will face AIC, the ECRC Champions. The game will be held at Gavin Park Field 1 at 11am.