Notre Dame 17 - Air Force 19

October 10, 2011Sean O'Leary

The stage was set. In only their 3rd match-up in both historic programs, the Fighting Irish were ready to face the Air Force Academy in the first night game in the history of the Rugby Program. With the stands filled with eager fans, the Irish wasted no time at the start of the match. After receiving the ball, helped by a few line breaks, the Irish found themselves within the Falcons 10 meter line. The ball got to flyhalf Byron Henry who broke a tackle and scored under the posts, Henry then converted the score. Irish were up 7 – 0.  Once the teams settled in a bit, it was the falcons turn, and their flyhalf took a ball up the middle and made a key line break within the Irish 22 to score under the posts. The try was converted, score tied 7 – 7.

 

The two teams battled for position, and the Irish were banging on the Falcons door, however a costly turnover prevented them from scoring. Luckily, the Irish won the opposition’s scrum, and the ball was kicked out to outside center Ryan Mitchell who reversed field and dove into the try zone. A missed conversion left the Irish with the lead at halftime, 12 – 7.

 

At the start of the second half, the Irish never let up the pressure. After winning possession off the kickoff, the Irish mauled their way into the opponent’s 22 meters. There both teams battled for possession and field position. After a long series of rucking and picking with the forwards and many attempts to clear the ball by the Falcon’s flyhalf, the Irish finally powered their way over the line with a score by Victor Sadauskas. With the try unconverted, the score was Irish 17, Falcons 7.

 

However, the Falcons of Air Force did not give up. They continued to put together attacks, and managed to drive into Irish 10 meters. There they forced their initiative and powered their way over the line to put them within one score. They converted this try to bring the score to 17 – 14.

 

As the two teams jockeyed for position in the closing moments of the half, Air Force continued to pressure the Irish. Deep in their own territory, the Irish made goal line stand after goal line stand. For the last five minutes of the game, the Irish showed their drive and determination and made tackle after tackle, holding off the Falcons. But as time expired and play continued, a Falcon’s forward picked the loose ball off a ruck and managed to dive into the corner of the try zone. As the final whistle blew, the score was Air Force 19 – Irish 17.