BOULDER, Colo. – The ACRC Bowl series gave four D1A sides a great chance to play against tough competition. Two teams were able to leave Charlotte with a win, and now enter the offseason on a high note. While the series of Bowl games included several intriguing matchups, it was the game that pitted No. 5 Indiana versus No. 6 Kutztown that proved to be the weekend’s best fixture.
Indiana 38 – 34 Kutztown
This was the biggest match of the weekend. Big Ten Champs versus Rugby East Champs, in a match that showcased two of the best rugby programs in the nation. Indiana hasn’t lost a match in the previous three years, and Kutztown’s roster is full of All-Americans. This match was highly anticipated, and it lived up to the expectations.
The first 10 minutes of this match belonged to Indiana. The Hoosiers were able to hold Kutztown from advancing the ball, and, thanks to a penalty, Teddy Terezis was able to score three points on a penalty kick. The Hoosiers kept Kutztown on their side of the field, and, thanks to a bobbled Kutztown pass, the Hoosiers came up with the ball and Terezis ran it in for a try. Behind Terezis, the Hoosiers were able to take an early, 10-0, lead against the Golden Bears.
The Golden Bears responded quickly, Andrew DeColli muscling it past Indiana’s pack for a try just three minutes after Terezis’s try. The biggest take-away from the early stages of the match was Jake Hidalgo shutting down Alex Faison-Donahoe. Both of these guys are big offensive threats for their teams, but Hidalgo stopped Donahoe with three big tackles in open field. The Hoosiers scored another penalty kick in the 23rd minute, and the score was pushed to 13-7.
The Golden Bears remained on the attack after the Hoosiers penalty kick, and it paid off as Trent Hensley dotted down in-goal. Kutztown remained patient and consistent, and it wore down the Hoosier defense enough for Hensley to find a gap. Kutztown’s conversion was successful, and the East champs took the lead, 14-13.
Indiana went back on the offensive after the Kutztown score, and marched the ball down the field. The Golden Bears held strong as the Hoosiers were knocking on the door, but were only able to hold for so long, as Tyler Graham found a slight hole to find the try line. The conversion was good, and Indiana took back the lead as the teams entered halftime.
Kutztown scored early in the second half off of a penalty kick, but Indiana took advantage of good field position on the ensuing kickoff to get captain Bryce Campbell the ball. Campbell charged through a line of Kutztown defenders for a 34-24 Indiana lead.
Kutztown was able to score back-to-back tries in the final 15 minutes of the match, but missed on both of its conversions, so the Golden Bears found themselves down by one point, 35-34, with only eight minutes left in the match. Kutztown tried to get into position to score, but wasn’t able to do so. The Hoosiers were able to get a penalty kick with five minutes left, and those were the only points scored in the final minutes of the match, as Indiana took this one.
This was a statement win for Indiana. Its defense was stiff throughout the match, limiting the effectiveness of Kutztown’s backs while showcasing great ability from its back line. Kutztown’s pack was great, but that simply wasn’t enough to beat Indiana.
The Hoosiers will enter the offseason with the Big Ten Championship and wins against two of the top rugby teams in the country in Davenport and Kutztown. This was a great way to end the fall season, and Indiana will enter the spring with tremendous momentum. Kutztown played very well, but ended its season with two losses to Penn State and Indiana. With the 15s season behind them, all of the Golden Bears’ focus will now shift to sevens in the spring.
St. Bonaventure 19 – 17 Western Michigan
This was a very defensive match, as the sides tried to advance but weren’t able to get near the try line. The Bonnies were on defense for most of the first half, and were able to keep Western Michigan on their side of the pitch for a majority of the first 40 minutes. The Broncos were able to break through the Bonnies’ tough defense in the 18th minute for a try, but that would be their only points of the first half.
St. Bonaventure was slow and steady on offense, and that paid off in the closing minutes of the half, dotting down for the tying try. The tough Rugby East opponents that St. Bonaventure faced all season prepped their offense with great toughness, and were able to put that to good use in this match.
A great kick to start the second half and a good run from the Bonnies gave St. Bonaventure great field position, and they capitalized. Lewis Carpio got the ball over for the try, and a successful conversion put them up, 12-5. The Broncos were able to score in the 55th minute, as Eric Williams ran over a couple small Bonnie wings, and closed the gap to just two points.
St. Bonaventure continued its strong defense, stopping multiple Broncos advances. When the Bonnies got an opportunity, they got the ball into good scoring position, and Kyle Ciquera took full advantage of that, as the big man carried three men with him across the try line for the score. A successful conversion made the score 19-10.
The Bonnies were on the defensive for the last 20 minutes of the match, trying to hold their lead until the end. Western Michigan was able to score one more try, but the Bonnies’ defense held strong and kept the Broncos off the scoreboard to take this match.
St. Bonaventure rounded its season out with a four-game winning streak, and should enter the offseason with momentum. This side is tough, and with the addition of Andrew Osborne to the coaching staff, the Bonnies have potential to do great things in the East.
Iona 29 – 36 Delaware
Iona wasn’t able to grab a victory in this match, but they played a very physical match against Delaware. The Gaels were able to get out to an early, 5-0, lead, but struggled to keep possession. Evan Staikos was able to score two tries on the day, while Mike Scarcella scored one, but their scoring efforts did little to help the Gaels’ defensive woes.
However, this was more than just a regular rugby match. This was the first ACRC satellite bowl, and it was in support of Quinn for the Win. Pat Quinn is an Iona rugby alumnus and co-founder of the Ice Bucket Challenge. This match was in support of Quinn and his battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. These schools played very tough rugby, and their effort was a great support for Quinn and ALS.