The Binghamton Devils declined their bid to the national playoffs and instead travelled to Iona College this weekend to compete in the ACRC Bowl Series. Binghamton was matched up with Loyola MD, a Division II powerhouse that dominated the Potomac Rugby Conference, for the bowl game. Although the season’s first snowfall hit Binghamton the night before, the weather held up in New Rochelle this past Sunday afternoon.
Even though they kicked off to start the game, the Devils came out of the gates on the offensive, quickly winning back possession off of the kick. Flyhalf Brandon Healy opened the scoring with a penalty kick at the 5-minute mark for an early Binghamton lead. Minutes later, the Devils were attacking again when prop Nick Coppola broke the line and touched down the game’s first try. Healy’s conversion put the Devils up 10-0 in the early minutes. Although Binghamton was attacking early, Loyola did not fold. Loyola quickly responded with their first try, bringing the score to 10-5 after a missed conversion. Each side put up another try before the end of the first half, including one from Binghamton outside center Matt Richards. The Devils went into halftime with only a close 15-12 lead.
The Devils received the ball in the second half, and came out even more aggressively than they did at the start of the game. Nick Coppola broke through the Loyola defense around midfield. With one man to beat in open field, Coppola perfectly exploited the 2-on-1 and offloaded to outside center Greg Lenane, who ran the rest of the way for the score. Healy added a successful conversion and a penalty kick in the coming minutes as the Devils widened their lead to 25-12. Greg Lenane intercepted a pass and ran 50 meters for a second consecutive try. Healy added another successful conversion as the Devils pull ahead 32-12 before the 50-minute mark. Loyola still wouldn’t quit, instead they scored a try with a successful conversion. But that was not enough to mount a comeback over the Empire Conference Champions. Nick Coppola scored his second try of the bowl game, which happened to be the fifth-year’s final 15s game of his collegiate career. Greg Lenane dodged defenders and broke tackles to contribute his third try of the day. Wing Hunter Reiter, who scored the game winning try in the ERC Championship game a few weeks earlier, touched down another Devil try. Loyola earned a try in the final minutes of the game, but the Binghamton Devils came away with the ACRC Bowl victory in dominating fashion 52-27.
After the game, individual and team awards were given out. For the win, the Devils were awarded a “trophy”, which seemed to be nothing more than an American football with the word “RUGBY” written on it. As for individual honors, Brandon Healy, Nick Coppola, and Greg Lenane were named the game’s MVPs. Healy totaled 17 points with his boot and commanded a powerful offense as fly half. Nick Coppola capped off his collegiate 15s career with a 2-try day. Greg Lenane had a personal best 3 tries and broke through the Loyola defense multiple times. All three MVPs were given ACRC Bowl Series jerseys and have yet to take them off.
On Saturday, some BURFC players, including prop Ashkon Assemi and wing Ray Henry pictured below, traveled down to Iona College a day early to watch the beginning of the ACRC Bowl Series, which included a few high school games. The players set up a table at the recruiting event and met many of the nation’s top high school prospects.
The Binghamton Devils are finished for the fall season, but it won’t be long until the 7s season starts up again in February. The Devils are saluting Scrum half Rafi Schulman and wing Aaron DiGirolamo as they graduate this fall. Aside from these two, Binghamton is returning many key players in the spring for a hopeful 7s season.