Commanding Performance, Guts Put Michigan over Flint, 45-7

posted Oct 15, 2012, 9:28 AM by Karl Seibert   [ updated Oct 29, 2012, 12:34 PM ]
      

6 October, 2012      
Saline, Michigan
      
Flint has been one of the leaders of this competition, and several commanding wins over the last few years has launched the red-and-blacks into one of the form teams of the league.  Michigan would prove to outplay the visitors, but only through hard work and huge defensive cohesion.

Beautiful conditions ensured an equal playing field for the home side, who have suffered dearly in the elements this year.  At 1:00pm, referee Jason Travitz blew the opening whistle, a warmup for him in a 20+ penalty game. 

A nervous start for the Maize and Blue as Flint hammered away inside the Michigan half.  Flint's fairly one-dimensional style of straight, hard running has torn apart Michigan's defense in the past, and thorough preparation guaranteed the home side's readiness, but jitters could have proved fatal.

Flint camped out at the goal line, but Michigan gave huge pressure, making tackle after tackle.  A huge hit by wing Alex Aizenman sets up a turnover.  Number 8 Avi Giladi, picked the ball from the base of a ruck and ran 60 meters for a try.  Not the start Flint expected.  7-0 seven minutes in.

Michigan was bolstered by the score, but the fight was just beginning.  Fierce contention at the breakdown and contact area might have favored Flint, but Michigan stood strong. 

Another goal line stand by Michigan sees a turnover.  Flyhalf Dodd kicks for territory, Michigan steals the lineout, and center Charlie Berklich is over the line.

Not quite a comfortable lead, 14-0 is certainly a nice cushion.  Flint had real pressure on Michigan and again made it inside the 22.  Forcing the turnover, Michigan kicks themselves out of trouble. 

A turnover after the lineout is for naught as Michigan knocked the ball on.  Flint wins their scrum, and a center chips over Michigan's defense, gathers and scores what would be a converted try.  14-7 at the half hour mark.

Five minutes later, Berklich is back terrorizing the open field Flint defense.  He sucks in three, offloads to a blazing Andy Dougovito, who dots down under the posts.  21-7.

Michigan seemed to be gaining a solid grasp at every dynamic in the game, and with little time left in the half, marched the ball down into Flint's 22.  It was anybody's try as Ted Pixley set up a nice half break and offloaded to Dodd.  However, the try would go to neither of those players as Dodd's head was nearly knocked off by an overzealous Flint defender.  Penalty try and Flint sees yellow.  28-7 at the break.

Michigan gets the ball and drives hard in the beginning of the second 40.  A well worked Michigan set piece move inspired by any number of professional teams generates a bizarre obstruction penalty from Travitz. 

In several instances, unforced errors are keeping Michigan from exploiting their man-advantage. 

It's not until fifteen minutes into the half that Michigan finally finishes a period of possession.  Flanker Mike Przybylek, having a fantastic season this Fall, shows his determination by charging over the line.  His work remains unconverted; 33-7.

Hickey was over four minutes later and Michigan could see a victory brewing.  Nothing is guaranteed, though, as last Fall, Flint came back from a 26-7 deficit to win 33-31. 

40-7 with 20 minutes to play was a healthy lead, however, and Michigan had all the momentum.  Hickey scored again from some excellent continuity.  No conversion mean 45-7 with less than fifteen minutes on the clock.

Michigan was playing all the rugby, but couldn't turn pressure into points inside the last 10 minutes.  Flint had no opportunities to score, though, and Travitz blew his last whistle of the day with a full-time score of 45-7.

A huge win for Michigan; if they can win their next three, they'll be playoff bound.

15 Jamie Hickey
14 Tom Stulberg (Whitelonis, 65')
13 Charlie Berklich
12 Andy Dougovito
11 Alex Aizenman
10 Aaron Dodd
9 Davy Hamilton
8 Avi Giladi
7 Mike Przybylek
6 Hany Shehata
5 Matt Daniel (Heiter, 70')
4 Andy Kilpatrick (Waters, 60')
3 Matt Forsyth (Burke, 60')
2 Ted Pixley
1 Doug Chapman

Replacements:
Doug Chenoweth, Jeff Burke, Ty Waters, Craig Heiter, Nick Whitelonis, Matt Frech, Andy Schwarzkopf

Tries: Hickey (2), Giladi, Berklich, Dougovito, Pryzbylek, PenTry
Conv.: Dodd (5)
Pen.: -
Drop: -


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