This week D1A rugby had a little bit of everything – top five teams in action, a host of big conference games, and a few top 20 matchups that all came together for an exciting weekend on the pitch.
D1A defending champs and #1 ranked Saint Mary’s continued its California Conference dominance with a 62-5 win over #14 San Deigo State. The Gaels offense went to work as usual, controlling possession early and spreading the field wide to expose holes in the Aztec defense and open up a 36-5 lead at the half. The Gael’s production continued in the second half, with Charlie Louden and Tavite Lopeti notching tries, and Ethan Waller putting in two of his own.
In the other California conference game this weekend, UC Davis was able to win their first conference game at the D1A level, as they beat the out Cal Poly 33-27. Davis was able to run 5 tries to Poly’s 3, and with Tarik Siniora having a sharp day with the boot the result was secure.
#5 Lindenwood kicked off its 2018 D1A campaign looking to get revenge at Central Washington after suffering a loss to them last season. Lindenwood jumped out ahead thanks to tries from Nick Feakes and Wes White. In the 50th minute, a Central Washington try from Jack Wendling off a blocked kick jumpstarted the Wildcat offense, bringing the score to 17-15. Lindenwood’s threatening offense put Central Washington back on their heels, however, sealing the game with two more late scores for a 27-15 victory.
“It was a great early test as we develop the mental edge we need to win the Mid-South,” Lindenwood coach Josh Macy said on the tough, wet conditions his team faced on the road.
In a battle of top 20 independent teams, #3 BYU took down #19 Grand Canyon University 53-22. GCU continued to show promise offensively, keeping the score to 29-12 at the half, but BYU’s size and speed overpowered them in the second half to secure the Cougars’ first win of 2018.
It was another crucial week in Red River conference play, with several muddy games turning into defensive grudge matches for top teams. Baylor improved to 4-0 in-conference with a 28-3 win over Houston while Texas and Texas Tech played to a scoreless first half until the Longhorns pulled away for a 25-7 Texas victory. Meanwhile, Texas A&M stayed ahead of Texas in Red River South and improved to 3-0 in conference after defeating TCU 34-9, aided by two early tries from Aggie freshman Will Green.
Out of the PAC, UCLA improved its conference record to 2-0 with a 47-5 victory over Arizona State. After a slow start, UCLA’s offense found some chemistry, with two scores coming from scrumhalf Matt Williams. Next up for the Bruins is an all-important showdown with conference heavyweight and #12 ranked Arizona. Arizona State was able to rebound on Sunday as they took down USC in a nail-biter, 22-20. James Tarbatt landed the winning points via a penalty in the final three minutes of the game.