With a strong wind blowing in one direction through Alapocas Run Park in Wilmington, Del., on Sunday for the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union league final, Penn State men's rugby coach Don Ferrell knew how he could use the breeze to his team's advantage.
Ferrell had the option of choosing which side his team would defend in the first half, and he gave Delaware the wind to its back, knowing his Ruggers would have the wind in the second half of what would likely be a close game.
The coach's strategy worked as planned, as the team scored 20 unanswered second-half points to come back and win, 25-13, for its third-straight MARFU league championship and fifth in the last six years.
"It means everything in the world," senior Bryan Oteri said. "It's pretty awesome to win MARFU, period. Let alone three years in a row."
With the victory, the No. 2-seed Ruggers avenged a regular-season loss to Delaware, the No. 1 seed in the four-team league playoff.
Penn State beat No. 3-seed Navy on Saturday, while Delaware beat No. 4 -seed Kutztown to set up Sunday's final.
The Ruggers were nursing an 18-13 lead with Delaware moving down the field late in the game. Senior Eric DiFelice intercepted a Delaware try attempt and sophomore Joe Baker made the conversion to put the game out of reach.
"The guys played real strong at the end of the game and it was another physical game," Ferrell said. "Going on back-to-back days is always tough, but the kids hustled hard and deserved the victory."
The victory gave the Ruggers the No. 7 seed in the national championships April 16. They'll be traveling to Atlanta to play the No. 9 seed, Texas A&M, which beat LSU on Sunday to win the Western Rugby Union league championship.
Penn State finished the season with a 10-2 record, with both losses coming in league play. Ferrell was happy to see his team bounce back from the losses during the season and raise its level of play.
"The league gets more competitive every year, and it's tough when you have two losses in the league," Ferrell said.
"But it's very satisfying to be able to come out on top in the end."