The USF rugby team achieved a notable victory Wednesday against Penn State, as they continue their build-up to the Rugby South Finals at the end of March.
Tries from John Clark, Jason Phillpott and Billy Scheirer proved decisive as the Bulls won 17 – 12 against a Nittany Lions team that has ranked second in the country twice in the last three years.
Jerry Morrone, USF head coach, said the victory was a major accomplishment for the Bulls.
“This win is a huge achievement for our guys. We’ve got as good a team as any outside California,” Morrone said.
The game seemed to be going to script when the fancied Penn State team opened up a 7-0 lead with a converted try. The Bulls responded immediately with an excellent counter- attack culminating in team captain John Clark touching down for the try.
Trailing by two points at half time, USF took control of the game after the interval. The Bulls’ rolling maul continually made in-roads into Penn State territory, and their domination in the scrum enabled them to control possession. The Bulls converted this dominance into points with a try from Scheirer and a superb try from Phillpott, following his 65-yard break down the left wing.
“It was an incredible try,” Morrone said. “He has All-American potential, good speed and a great side-step.”
Penn State responded with another try to set up a tense final 10 minutes, but they were unable to break through resolute Bulls’ defending.
John Clark, Bulls captain said the team had been motivated by their omission from the national first division.
“We felt we had something to prove. This win is a statement for USF rugby,” Clark said.
- Chris O’Donnell