Northeastern won a battle of undefeated Liberty teams in a rain-soaked challenge match at Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT, on Saturday.
The Maddogs, who came into the game unbeaten in the New England Division of the Liberty Conference, defeated SUNY Cortland — undefeated in the Empire Division — 42-10 as part of the Liberty Challenge at Rafferty Stadium.
Northeastern won by winning the point of contact and unleashing a dominant scrum that produced all sorts of problems for Cortland. Without a secure platform at the scrum, and with the Maddogs strong in the lineouts, it was rough sledding for the New York team.
Northeastern hardly let Cortland past the halfway line. The Maddogs pulled away to a 20-3 lead behind tries from prop Brett Bragaw, hooker Sean McElhinney, and lock Jim O’Shea.
After Northeastern went down a man due to a yellow card, the Red Dragons finally got on the front foot and scored a crucial try to make it 20-10 at the break. However, Cortland was unable to capitalize while the Maddogs were still shorthanded in the second half. In fact, as the half wore on, Northeastern extended its lead. The Maddogs forward power eventually put a stranglehold on the game, and Northeastern ran in three more tries and kicked a penalty.
O’Shea, McElhinney, and flanker Mathieu Larouche led the powerful forward pack effort, which McElhinney said has been "able to push teams around" all season.
“We’ve got a lot of great players here and a couple of new forwards that really put our pack over the edge,” McElhinney added.
Meanwhile, the backs challenged Cortland at every turn, thanks in large part to the hard work of Darren Chan at scrumhalf.
“It was everything coming together," Chan said. "This team’s worked really hard, [and it] shows where this team’s going to go in the future.”