April has finally arrived, and playoff rugby is in the air. With four top 20 D1A matches on the docket, this week provided some high-stakes rugby with big playoff implications.
In one of the wildest finishes all spring, #7 Penn State edged #6 Army 41-40. The two Rugby East heavyweights traded scores in a physical first half, with Army taking a 27-19 lead into the break. Penn State continued to play catch-up until taking the lead on a Mike Eife try in the 73rd minute. After Army went ahead 40-38 with three minutes to go, The Nittany Lions’ pressure forced a turnover and a Brendan McCabe penalty kick in extra time was true for the game-winner.
“With Army scoring late, the guys did well to put the ball deep and put some pressure on Army,” Penn State coach Justin Hundley said. “Our forwards, who played well all day, took a moment where they saw an opportunity to counter ruck and win the penalty. Then it was all down to the kick.”
#12 Arkansas State ended its regular season on a high note with a statement road victory over #11 Indiana 48-14. The Red Wolves defense shined in the first half, forcing mistakes from Indiana that turned into points. After some losses in a tough Mid-South schedule, this win should help build confidence for Arkansas State into the playoffs.
In a battle between top 20 independents, #18 Central Washington defeated #19 Utah Valley 48-36. Utah Valley battled back after going down early, but were unable to overcome a second-half red card. CWU freshman center Jack Wendling led both teams in scoring, collecting four tries on the day.
Both # 5 Lindenwood and #2 Life picked up wins in the conclusion of Mid-South play, as Lindenwood beat Davenport 31-10 and Life dispatched Clemson 93-9. Davenport jumped out to an early 10-0 lead before the Lions battled back with an explosive second half that featured four unanswered Lindenwood tries. At home, Life successfully closed out its season perfect in conference play and undefeated overall.
#4 BYU defended the Wasatch Cup on Friday night with a convincing 77-3 victory over Utah. BYU’s final regular season match will come next week against Central Washington. Elsewhere, Arizona State took down New Mexico 50-5. While #13 Grand Canyon won in a hard fought contest against #20 Cal Poly earlier in the week, 31-26.