With a dominating 47-12 victory over league rival Wabash on Saturday, the USI rugby team sketched its name in the Indiana Rugby Union’s small college semifinals.
The win gave the Eagles (5-0, 3-0) its first win against Wabash in four years. Last year in the state championship, the Little Giants edged out USI by three points.
“It was a huge grudge match for us,” said sophomore Adam Ferrari, who scored three tries in the match. “Everybody knows they were the team we hadn’t been able to beat, so we definitely came in with a chip on our shoulder and to prove to them we’ve gotten better.”
Both teams started the match slow out of the gates, but USI head coach Kurt Murrell said once they started dialing in the defense and putting pressure on Wabash, good things started to happen.
“It’s an even bigger win than the UK game because (Wabash) has taken to us the past three seasons,” Murrell said. “This team has been together for a while to where they’re not going to lose these games anymore.”
After leading 17-12 at halftime, USI outscored Wabash 30-0 in the second half. The Eagles built momentum early on as sophomore Doug Rose sent a kick deep into Little Giants territory. Wabash tried to kick it right back, but senior Justin Mizen blocked the attempt and Ferrari scooped it up for the first try of the second half.
“That play really set the tone for the second half,” Rose said. “We wanted to come out strong and put the pressure on them defensively, and we were able to force a lot of turnovers.
“But really, it’s just another win. We’re in the same position now as we were last year pretty much. Hopefully we can continue to build momentum next week before semifinals.”
USI wraps up league play next week at home against Grace College (2-1), the North Division leaders.