In the biggest weekend of D1A Rugby thus far this year, a number of top matchups produced some thrilling results.
In the highly anticipated top 3 west coach matchup, #1 St. Mary’s took down #3 BYU 37-17. BYU put St. Mary’s on its heels to start, taking a 10-5 lead before the Gaels found their footing with set pieces and took a 20-10 lead at half. Though BYU kept it close at the start of the second 40 minutes, St. Mary’s counter-attack went to work, as the Gaels put in two late tries to dash any Cougar hopes of an upset.
The long-awaited Mid-South clash between #2 Life University and #5 Lindenwood University lived up to the hype. Life came away with a 22-18 victory as both defenses put on a showcase. The teams traded penalty kicks in the first 20 minutes before Life’s Mitchel Wilson scored the match’s only try to make it 13-6. In the second half, Lindenwood’s Nick Feakes and Life’s Duncan Van Schalkwyk kept matching each other until Life finally pulled away with two more penalties to retake the lead for good.
In non-conference play, #18 Grand Canyon University continued its impressive debut D1A season with a 48-34 victory over #16 Utah. After some mental lapses and turnovers at the end of the half, GCU played its best offense of the day in the final 20 minutes. Christian Bucklin’s late 95-meter interception served as the turning point.
“We definitely made it hard on ourselves at the back end of the first half, and with a team as good as Utah, you can’t give them any easy opportunities.” GCU head coach Cameron Wyper said. “I feel like we were able to find our structure late in the game.”
Another independent, #7 Navy, kicked off its spring season on the right foot, beating Dartmouth 88-8.
In the California Conference, teams jockeying for second place behind St. Mary’s were in action. Cal Poly took care of USC 69-5 while Santa Clara was victorious over UC Santa Barbara 42-22. Looking for a win, #13 San Diego State played to a 23-23 tie after UCLA scored a last-minute equalizer in stoppage time.
Red River conference play continued with one surprise as Oklahoma handed Baylor its first loss of the season, winning 40-29. In Lubbock Texas, Arkansas defeated Texas Tech 59-30. The race to the top of Red River South got a little more interesting with LSU knocking off Texas A&M 17-10. Texas beat Houston to stay in the mix in the South, so now Texas and Texas A&M sit at 4-1 while LSU is 3-0.