The atmosphere at UNF last Friday was hectic to say the least. Your very own UNF RFC Deadbirds were slated to take on nationally ranked D-1AA powerhouse University of Florida Gators. As the annual homecoming concert raged in the background, the team was ready and awaiting this long anticipated match. First up was the B-side, who took a shot at the Gators B- side and fell just short, losing 12-19. There was great leadership shown on both sides of the ball. Flyhalf Clay Morris and rookie inside center Forrest Peyton displayed great versatility on offense, along with great defensive work from rookie 8-man Kenny Cates and prop Juan Mata.
Then it came down to the biggest match the Deadbirds have played all season. Florida’s starting XV were massive, out muscling UNF in both the pack and the backs; but the Deadbirds came out unrelenting and not ready to back down without a fight. After some tight play from both sides, UNF marched down the field and hooker Thomas Lepick put in the first try. The first half seemed to be a battle of possession and with 10 minutes left, UNF lost flyhalf Trace Horevitz to the sin-bin. At the end of the first 40, the game was all tied up. It was the second half when the Deadbirds finally gained a much needed adrenaline boost; winning scrums, line-outs and taking advantage of the penalties. The Deadbirds put in two more tries, only allowing Florida one more opportunity to score. With time running down and the game on the line, UF was desperately trying to score, going so far as to push UNF into their own 22-metre. With UNF up 20-19, one last Gator-push fell short. This was the first time in 5 years that the Deadbirds have defeated UF! Man of the match went to #8 Joe Eichner for his brilliant runs and brutal hits.
Next week we take on FGCU @ home in the 2nd annual “Battle of the Birds”. Check facebook for the event and come celebrate your #1 ranked UNF Deadbirds!