Rival shut out as Rugby Club earns first victory of the season

Written By Joshua Croup

                                                                                                                                         photo by Jordan Chaffee
Point Park graduate Tom Walk lifts Sophomore Jerimiah Elsass in celebration after a game against Carnegie Mellon on Sept. 19. The Bison dominated CMU 5-0.

A 45-yard dash into open field by Jake Como was the difference in a 5-0 victory for the Bison Rugby Club over rival Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). 

Point Park arrived at CMU’s Gesling Stadium just over an hour before kickoff, a half hour  earlier than they had arrived for their first two games. Both teams warmed up side by side on a grass field outside stadium where the match was played. 

“It was awesome,” Travis Johnston said. “Last game, we just weren’t ready. Today, we were able to prepare and talk things over. We could also see a little bit of what they were doing before we went out there.” 

As the players arrived to the field, Point Park fans began filing into the stands. Shuttle drivers estimate that over 100 students made the trip to CMU for the game following a tailgate in Village Park hosted by Campus Activities Board (CAB). The players were also met with around a dozen alumni club members on the sideline to cheer them on. 

After the 7:11 p.m. kickoff, the Carnegie Mellon Tartans looked to pick up their first win of the season and their fourth consecutive victory over Point Park. 

CMU missed two early free kicks from 45 yards and 35 yards, respectively, due to Point Park penalties.

The game was back and forth for the entire first half, with neither team able to put points on the board. CMU, unable to run the ball on the Point Park defense, only advanced inside the Point Park 20 yard line twice. Multiple turnovers and sloppy passes made Point Park unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities in the first half. 

The story of the first half was the Point Park defense. In the first two games, Point Park had allowed 12 and 14 points respectively in the first half. Putting a zero on the CMU scoreboard after 40 minutes of rugby was a goal for Point Park going into the game. 

“Can you feel the power of our defense? They can’t run on us,” Troy Johnston told the team at the half. 

Point Park came out firing early in the second half. Four minutes in, they were supporting each other and pushing towards the goal line when sophomore Jerimiah Elsass was stopped within inches of a try. Point Park then controlled the ball for the first 10 minutes of the second half. 

At the halfway point in the second half, Como picked up the ball after a scrum on the CMU 45-yard line. With a full head of steam in the open field, Como carried the ball the entire way to score and put Point Park ahead.

“Don’t drop the ball,” Como said he told himself. “Sometimes the hardest thing to do is run straight with nobody in front of you.” 

“I wanted him to pass it to me,” Travis Johnston said with a chuckle. “That was awesome. He does that stuff all the time.”

The Point Park defense would hold off CMU for the remainder of the game, not allowing the Tartans within 10 yards of scoring. 

“You didn’t lose the game. Those guys were just lucky,” the CMU captains told their team after the game. 

“We outplayed them, we outthought them, we outran them,” Point Park’s Alden Roth said. “We knew what we had to do. We had one goal and that was to work hard and win. We did not get lucky. This was all practice and preparation.”

The win ended Point Park’s three-year losing streak against CMU. Point Park seniors that have been around since the club’s inaugural year in 2010 have experienced all of those losses, including Troy Johnston. 

“Words can’t describe how happy I am to finally beat those guys,” Johnston said. “It’s been three long years of losing to them and we were sick and tired of it. We came together so well as a team.”

The Point Park crowd came out in numbers and could be heard chanting throughout the game. The constant cheers from the bleachers energized the Point Park club. 

“Hearing the bison chant made my whole day,” Richie Carver said. “You don’t want to acknowledge it because you don’t want to get out of sync in the game, but we heard it and that fueled us for sure.”

“It was awesome that the fans came out and supported us. It gave us more will to win towards the end of the game,” Colby Barrett said.

Point Park will travel to Fairmont State University on Friday where Point Park won their only game of the 2013 fall semester.