LAFAYETTE, Colo. – In October, Arkansas and Baylor produced one of the best D1A Rugby matches of the fall semester. Three months after the Bears snuck past the Razorbacks with a last-minute drop goal, the two teams from Red River’s North Division produced another match that came down to the wire. In the end, it was again Baylor that was able to produce the win, 25-20.
Frontrowers traded tries in the opening 15 minutes. First, Arkansas prop Nicholas Hiatt went over for an unconverted try before Baylor’s Parker Vincent converted hooker Jono Cooper’s score.
The Razorbacks regained the advantage when full back Josh Latham dotted down, but it was the Bears that went into halftime ahead on the scoreboard. Vincent hit his first penalty kick of the afternoon and slotted the conversion attempt that followed Luke Davis 35th minute try to give his team a 17-12 lead.
Arkansas, however, would open the second half with the first eight points to pull ahead. The first three came from the boot of Alex Rees. The Bears, who were burned by several territorial kicks by Rees three months ago, made a point to put more pressure on the fly half and his running mates in the backline.
“We did a really solid job of applying defensive pressure on all of their backline – not just Rees,” said Baylor Head Coach Mason Hering. “We were able to contain their playmakers by forcing them into some tough decisions which often led to loss of territory or possession.”
The Bears relied on Vincent to tie the game just shy of the 60-minute mark by asking their fly half to take a shot at goal. The junior Biology major didn’t disappoint, giving him10 points on the day.
“Parker slotted some big kicks for us that helped put away the match,” Hering approved of his fly half. “His goal kicking has time and time again helped us win matches.”
Tied at 20, the teams traded away processions before Baylor methodically drove deep into Arkansas 22-mete line. The Bears appeared to hit a brick wall ahead of the Razorback goal line, but eight man Pete Hamm finally found a crack in the opposition’s armor to score the game-winner.
“Pete is such a powerful guy to stop from in close,” Hering explained of his captain. “I felt if we kept at it there was a good chance he would score.”
After allowing a disappointing 37 points in defeat to Oklahoma to close the fall portion of its season, Baylor fixed many of the mistakes it made against the Sooners defensively.
“Our defense and discipline really led us to victory,” Hering added. “They have some talented athletes there that we were able to nullify to some extent because of how strong and aggressive our defense was. It’s really been our calling card this year.”
The Bears now return to Waco, Tex. to host Texas A&M Jan. 28. Arkansas, on the other hand, has next weekend off before welcoming Oklahoma to Fayetteville for another North Division fixture.