(Chicago) Mike Kedgley’s 67th-minute try sealed Belmont Shore’s 36-27 win over the Chicago Lions, confirming the unbeaten Southern Californians as the Super League’s team to beat.
Snaffling a grub kick which rebounded off the goalpost, the openside flanker claimed the second of three converted Belmont touchdowns in an 11-minute span. The Lions had led 20-15 after wing Andrew Tihore’s second penalty goal 14 minutes into the second stanza, but thereafter the visiting pack determined the outcome.
In an episodic match that saw five lead changes, there was little between the backlines. But Chicago had no answer for charging Henry Bloomfield, most diligently pursued by Kedgley, and was so badly disrupted at scrummage that it could manage little offense for large stretches of the sometimes rainy game.
The “interconference” road win over the two-time semifinalists kept Belmont ahead of rivals Golden Gate and OMBAC, which triumphed over Philadelphia-Whitemarsh and Old Blue, 50-16 and 43-22 respectively. Every other red conference team triumphed this weekend, underlining the Western group’s strength.
Belmont center Jason Roach opened the scoring, winning an aerial duel with fullback Jeremy Nash to score a crossfield kick from Mike Hercus. Hard running from hometown prop Jon Vitale leveled the count at 7 after 8 minutes.
Flyhalf Hercus slotted a penalty goal, and then missed touch. Tihore launched the counter, with Nash filling in to assist Phil Eloff, who sailed around the left corner to score under the post. Belmont’s second try, from wing Iopu Sanonu, set the halftime count at 15-14.
Tihore’s pair of three pointers put the Lions back in front, and along with patches of rain, seemed to persuade Belmont to take the game into the pack.
Lock Tim McCue tallied a forwards try at 59 minutes. Next, Bloomfield was held up over the line before Hercus laid down a dribbler intended for his outsides, but claimed by Kedgley. Roach’s second try, an intercept that sprang from yet another disrupted Lions setpiece, put the game completely out of reach.
Separately, Navy captured the Mid-Atlantic collegiate title with a 33-28 overtime win over Penn State. Tennessee captured the South title with a 36-14 victory over Clemson.
Belmont Shore 36 Chicago Lions 27 (halftime: Belmont 15-14)
Tries: Jon Vitale, Phil Eloff, Joe Chesak
Conversions: Andrew Tihore (3)
Penalties: Andrew Tihore (2)
Jeremy Nash; Andrew Tihore, Phil Eloff, Austin Britts, Scott Jones (
Robert Cocking Eddie Bluemel); Scott Peterson, David Selimos; Jon Vitale, Jim Pelton (Phil Abraham), Chad Slaby, John Shelbourne, Dustin Hugen, MC Laubscher, Tom Dolan (Jason Price), Joe Chesak
Tries: Jason Roach (2), Iopu Sanonu, Tim McCue, Mike Kedgley
Conversions: Mike Hercus (4)
Penalties: Mike Hercus
Francois Viljoen; Tony Frantangelo, Jason Roach, Valenese Malisa, Iopu Sanonu; Mike Hercus, Mike Petri; Mark Kerner, Craig Eaton (Cesar Santoyo), Chris Osentowski, Tim McCue, Faimafila Elivara, Mike Kedgley, Henry Bloomfield
Referee: Graeme Bullen (Midwest and United States)
Attendance: 100 (estimated)