BOULDER, Colo. – Life and Kutztown left the ACRC Bowl Series with impressive victories, but it was the Running Eagles’ 53-19 win over Army that was heard loudest.
Patiently waiting to meet the Rugby East Champions in Charlotte, N.C., Life has quietly been fine tuning a team that has the “most collective talent since I’ve been here,” according to now-former Head Coach and current Life University Athletic Director Dan Payne.
Considering the amount of All-American-level talent that has come through the Life program in recent years, that is lofty praise voiced by Payne in regards to this year’s team. Still, a 34-point win over No. 3-ranked and previously unbeaten Army is a good indicator as to how good Life can be this season.
Taking over Life’s kicking duties for graduated AIG Men’s Collegiate All-American Joe Cowley is fly half Blane Mcllroy, who scored the Running Eagles’ first 10 points of the match. Tries from super-athletic loose forward Hiko Malu and captain Glen Maricelli helped guide an early lead for Life, but Army’s top try-scoring tandem, captain Collum Magee and winger David Huff, each dotted down to narrow Life’s halftime lead to 24-12.
The Running Eagles put the match away by scoring 24 unanswered points to open the second half. Sophomore outside center Harley Davidson, who came on incredibly strong near the end of his freshman campaign, was in the middle of the scoring frenzy with two tries of his own.
True to both teams’ relentless commitment, Army and Life would score late tries, finalizing the score at 53-19.
Kutztown shook off any lingering disappointment from missing out on a second consecutive Rugby East title and a shot to play Life by hammering Michigan, 43-17. Kutztown received yet another stellar performance from All-American scrum half Niku Kruger, and danger man Robert Stortz, back from his most recent knee injury, found the try zone.
Athletically, Kutztown might be the Rugby East side to best match up with Life. The Golden Bears very well may get the opportunity to take the pitch against the Running Eagles if they decide to play in the 2015 D1A Rugby Playoffs.
Iona was the fourth D1A Rugby team to participate in the ACRC Bowl Series. Unfortunately for the Gaels, they were defeated by Boston College, 29-19.
For Army, Kutztown and Life – each among D1A’s top five – the fall season is now over. As for 2015, each team’s spring semester will take different shapes.In the past, Kutztown has spent the spring months focusing on sevens. Army’s schedule isn’t cemented just yet, but matches against military rival Navy and 2014 D1A Champion St. Mary’s are in the works. A spring tour, similar to the one the Brothers took to Texas last year, might also take place in order for the cadets to be in the best form possible prior to the D1A Playoffs. For Life, the Running Eagles will try to navigate the Mid-South schedule unscathed yet again, while also challenging themselves against Arkansas State, Clemson, and San Diego State.