Life staves off Lindenwood’s comeback attempt

D1A Rugby: Life staves off Lindenwood’s comeback attempt
Photo Credit: DoctorHawkPhoto (above & homepage)

MARIETTA, Ga. – There are two Mid-South matches in the books and both have been narrow wins for Life University after the Running Eagles dodged an upset by Lindenwood, 25-21.

A week after beating Davenport by just three points, the Running Eagles looked to be well on their way to an easy victory after building a 22-0 lead at halftime. A trio of forwards guided Life to its early lead after Zach Warren, Alex Maughan, and Jake Anderson each dotted down in the first 40 minutes.

However, Lindenwood utilized its deep roster and inserted several substitutes with starting experience early in the second half. One of those players being center/wing Sione Fangaiuiha, who crossed the end line minutes after entering the match.

“Our attitude was good at the start and we were fired up, but I think we got a bit complacent in the second half,” said Life fly half Blane Mcllroy of the momentum swing.

Winger Cameron Reed added a second score for the visiting Lions to bring the match to 22-14, but Mcllroy, who has excelled since taking over the kicking duties for the graduated Joe Cowley, stopped the bleeding by notching a penalty.

“I suppose there is pressure, but someone has to do it,” Mcllroy, who has 23 points in two conference matches, said of his responsibility from the tee. “I quite enjoy it, actually.”

Lindenwood continued to fight, and number eight Sebastian Kalm added a converted try in the 78th minute. Those would be the final points of the match, and Life left its home pitch with a 25-21 win.

In six conference matches last season, Life played in just two games decided by four points or less. This season, the Running Eagles have opened the Mid-South with two matches decided by a total of seven points.

“We enjoy the tight games,” claimed Mcllroy. “That’s why you play any sport, to play in the big games. It’s good to be in such a tough conference – it makes us better.”

Life renews its rivalry with former Mid-South foe Arkansas State March 14 for the second annual Huckaby Cup. Named after a longtime Red Wolves coach and mentor to Life University Athletic Director Dan Payne, the match honors Curt Huckaby for all he has done for college rugby and raises awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), with which Huckaby lives.