BOULDER, Colo. – Penn State got the result it wanted in terms of wins and loses in its fall season finale, but the 24-15 win over Kutztown wasn’t enough to steal the Rugby East title from the claws of the Golden Bears.
Needing a four-try bonus point victory to overtake Kutztown for the conference crown, Penn State owned the opening 40 minutes of the game.
Tries from wings Jimmy Haley and Micahel Eife, as well as eight man Chris Burian paced the Nittany Lions one-sided assault. Sophomore scurm half Jimmy Ronan, who has demonstrated an accurate boot from the tee all season, was good on each of his three conversion attempts, and added a penalty midway through the half.
“Once we started playing in their half of the field, we played in our pattern with a lot of confidence, and the scores came as a result of that,” said Ronan of the first half. “We played fast, but were patient, allowing them to make the mistakes.”
The second half was a different story. Kutztown began to return the pressure onto Penn State, and minimized its opportunities. Penn State wasn’t able to score, let alone get the sought-after fourth try. On attack, All-American Robert Stortz scored the first of three Golden Bear tries. However, the late turnaround wasn’t enough, and the Nittany Lions enjoyed a 24-15 win.
Coming so close, yet missing out on the Rugby East Championship didn’t go unnoticed after the game, but the win over a very good Kutztown team was worthy of celebration.
“Obviously we would have loved to win the Rugby East title, but we were more than happy with a win,” Ronan said. “The Penn State versus Kutztown rivalry is probably the best that you’ll find on the east coast, and in recent years we have been on the losing side of things.”
The nine-point win is a notable end to Penn State’s fall season. New head coach Blake Burdette didn’t get settled into his role with the Nittany Lions until the wheels to the fall season were already in motion. Now with three months together, Burdette and Penn State are playing its best rugby.
“This win showed how much we have improved over the course of the season,” judged Ronan. “Everyone is buying in to Blake’s system. Like he’s said so many times, we have the same roster that we had in August, but we are just cutting down on our mistakes.”