LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Two Rugby East matchups pitting D1A Rugby Top 20 teams against one another turned out to be one-sided wins for the higher ranked sides. No. 4 Penn State blew out No. 17 Wheeling Jesuit, while No. 7 Army had no trouble getting past No. 13 Kutztown. Additionally, Iona won its second game in a row when it hosted Buffalo, and St. Bonaventure earned its first road victory of the year by outlasting Delaware, 39-24.
#4 Penn State 66 – 5 #17 Wheeling Jesuit
The Nittany Lions welcomed the Cardinals to State College, Pa., for a Friday night affair, and it appeared that Wheeling Jesuit could have used an extra day to prepare.
When Jesuit’s Tyler Ozment countered Penn State’s 10-point output to open the game, the Cardinals were hoping it would be a back-and-forth game – that was not the case. Osment’s try would be Wheeling Jesuit’s lone points, and Penn State went on to score four more first-half tries – two by Chris Burian – to build a 38-5 halftime lead.
The Nittany Lions were especially crisp given the team hadn’t played since its Oct. 15 win against Iona.
“The bye week came at the right time of our season,” said Penn State Head Coach Blake Burdette. “We stuck to doing the simple things well. When we started to try to do too much is when we didn’t play as well.”
The attacking onslaught continued into the second period. Robert Irimescu and Malcolm May bagged their second tries of the evening before back-line reserve Kiefer Kei-Boguinard punched in two more scores.
“We stuck to the plan most of the game and it worked,” Burdette said of his team’s offensive output. “It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.”
Both Penn State and Wheeling Jesuit have road games Saturday, Nov. 5 The Cardinals will try to rebound against winless Delaware, and the Nittany Lions head to Pennsylvania to take on Kutztown.
#7 Army 37 – 19 #13 Kutztown
The Black Knights welcomed Kutztown to West Point with one of their best performances of the season. Army didn’t score its first try until wing Jeff Malm-Annan dotted down in the 25th minute to put his side up, 8-0, after Jon Kim slotted a penalty kick in the opening minutes. Four minutes later, wing Andy Sullivan notched the second try to give Army some breathing room at halftime, 15-0.
West Point remained on the front foot to open the second half. Dynamic full back Jake Lachina found the try zone for a team-leading eighth try before Sullivan’s second score of the game matched Lachina’s total.
Kutztown would eventually find a rhythm and use it to build tries for Jake Glass, Christian Crow and Dmontae Noble. Still, Army continued to add to its total. Sophomore center Torran Raby scored a late try, which Kim converted to give the fly half 12 points from the tee.
Army’s convincing win over Kutztown ended West Point’s conference season and secured a second-place finish in Rugby East behind the only team it lost to – Penn State. The cadets’ eighth and final Rugby East fixture didn’t conclude their fall season, though. Army must now get back to work to prepare for a huge game against military academy rival and D1A Rugby’s 12th-ranked Air Force Friday, Nov. 4.
Kutztown has another tough task ahead of it when it finishes its conference season against Penn State this Saturday, Nov. 5.
St. Bonaventure 39 – 24 Delaware
Tries by Charles Schwenk and John McCurdy, as well as 14 points by fly half Christian Artuso, aided a 24-0 lead for St. Bonaventure in the first half. However, just when it looked like the Bonnies were going to run Delaware off its own pitch, the Blue Hens took a stance.
Outside center Matt Ramirez scored a try to close the first half and dotted down again to open the second period. Almost immediately after reserve forward Nick Lintner entered the game, he made an impact by scoring a try in the 45th minute to bring his side to within seven points of St. Bonaventure’s once-enormous lead.
“After building the lead, our lack of physicality and urgency in that spell let Delaware back into the match,” St. Bonaventure Head Coach Tui Osborne explained.
Fortunately for the visitors, Artuso stopped the bleeding with a drop goal, but Ramirez struck back with a third try to close the gap to just three points after Thomas Abram split the uprights on the pending conversion.
Unsatisfied with simply holding onto its lead, the Bonnies ended the match with tries by reserve back Jesus Robles and winger Ed Gorman. The 15-point victory was certainly in question during the second half, but Artuso’s season-high 19-point scoring total, as well as the superb play of freshman center Jaret Williamson, helped stave off the Blue Hens.
“Artuso is one of our hardest workers on and off the field and is certainly a leader through his play on the field, so it was no surprise to us that he had the game that he did,” complimented Osborne. “Both Christian and Jaret Williamson played with a huge sense of urgency throughout the match making their tackles, hard runs and smart passes. Christian and Jaret’s work ethic and determination week in and week out makes us certain that they both have bright futures with the program and especially the sport.”
Delaware has two more opportunities to notch its first Conference win of the season. The first one comes Nov. 5 at home against Wheeling Jesuit. The Bonnies close their conference season on the road against Iona this coming weekend. If St. Bonaventure can beat the Gaels, something it hasn’t done since the two joined Rugby East in 2014, it will finish the season with a conference record of 4-4.
Iona 31 – 14 Buffalo
The Gaels won back-to-back games for the first time all season by easily handling Buffalo, 31-14.
Iona bombarded the Bulls with a four-try first half to create a 24-7 lead. Mike Marino powered his way to a pair of scores, while John D’Allara and John Powers each added their own. All three try-scorers have made a habit of finding the end zone this season.
“Probably a little of both,” said Iona Head Coach Bruce McLane when asked if it were a coincidence or habit that Saturday’s try-scorers were repeat offenders. “They’re great runners and we’ve had injuries so they’ve consistently been able to play.”
The second half saw a more resilient Buffalo squad play the Gaels to a 7-7 tie, producing a 31-14 win for Iona.
“We didn’t change much,” McLane said of the second half. “Buffalo had a large alumni presence, and I think they played tough and kept us out.”
Iona closes its Rugby East season Saturday, Nov. 5, at home against St. Bonaventure. One-win Buffalo has two attempts to double its win total, the first coming this weekend against West Virginia.