Being in first place by 5 points, the Binghamton Devils only needed to earn one point in the standings against Syracuse to capture the top seed in the Empire Rugby Conference. So, even though the Devils lost to Syracuse 26-24 in the final game of the regular season, the Devils remain on top of the conference because they earned a pair of bonus points for keeping the score within 7 points and scoring four tries. As the number one seed, Binghamton will host the second seed in the ERC Championship Game on Saturday November 5th at 1pm. It turns out that they’ll have another shot at Syracuse, as the Hammer Heads finish the regular season in second place.
The inclement weather forced both teams to rely heavily on their forwards for offense. From the opening kickoff, the Devils were effectively moving the ball in Hammer Head territory. But, Syracuse stole possession and moved the ball downfield through a series of kicks. Then, Syracuse’s 8 man picked the ball from a 5-meter scrum and scored the game’s first try. The Hammer Heads went up 7-0. After the kickoff, the Devils regained possession and were again attacking on offense. The Devils’ forwards did a particularly good job breaking through the Hammer Heads’ defensive line, and 8 man Brian Burke touched down the first try for Binghamton. The score was now tied 7-7.
Later in the first half, a Syracuse defender intercepted a pass intended for a Binghamton player around midfield and took it 50 meters to the try line. After a successful conversion, Syracuse pulled ahead 14-7. But, the Devils answered quickly. Refusing to go down, inside center Greg Lenane powered through the defensive line touched down a try on the final play of the half. The Devils went into halftime trailing 14-12.
Early in the second half, Binghamton was backed up against their own goal line when a Syracuse defender blocked a clearance kick in Binghamton’s try zone. Another Syracuse player fell on the ball, resulting in another try of the Hammer Heads. Once again, the Devils quickly responded. Flanker Billy Cusack scored a try, bringing the score to 21-17.
Around the 65th minute, Syracuse scored their fourth and final try, and scored was now 26-17. Binghamton lock Jason McKenna scored a late try to bring the score within 2; however, that would be the last score of the game. The Devils lost a close one to Syracuse 26-24.
Binghamton and Syracuse are both off this weekend, but will meet again on November 5th for what will surely be a hard-fought rematch.