Week 11 Recap: Tight Finishes Littered Across the Board

D1A Rugby: Week 11 Recap: Tight Finishes Littered Across the Board
Photo Credit: Lindenwood University Rugby Facebook Page
It was always going to be a big round of games in Week 11, as there were 3 conference playoffs taking place, and 10 Top 20 teams taking to the pitch. The games were close tussles, however, the favorites had enough in the tank to see themselves over the line. 

Lamont, Illinois hosted teams from the Big Ten this past weekend, as sides fought for their final spot in the Division and for the championship of the Big Ten. In the championship match for the Big Ten, #17 Ohio State took on #16 Wisconsin. Ohio State entered the match undefeated in league play; while Wisconsin sitting at 4-1. The Buckeyes entered the match feeling confident after beating the Badgers earlier this season. Despite a hot start from Wisconsin that resulted in an early try, Ohio State lead at half time 13-5. Wisconsin came back and were able to score 15 unanswered points in the second half en route to a 20-13 win and division championship. Winger Jacob Kaplan was instrumental in the win for Wisconsin as he scored two tries, including the game winner in the dying minutes of the game. In the 3rd place game Indiana lost to Michigan State, 26-20. Illinois was too good for Purdue in the 5th place game, 21-10. Michigan avoided the wooden spoon this season, instead handing it to Minnesota after their 39-28 win.

Semi-Finals took place in the Rocky Mountain division, as Utah State took on Colorado State and Air Force faced BYU. Colorado State beat Utah State 41-28, with inside center Maximillian Wheelan leading the way for Colorado State with 16 points. The highlight of the Semi-Final games though was #6 BYU taking on Air Force. BYU, the favorites to win the Rocky Mountain division, shutout Air Force in a blowout game 110-0. Flanker Tosh Wilcox would score four tries in the match for BYU, as his team ran rampant on Air Force. BYU have positioned themselves as the favorites as they head into the championship match against Colorado State.

The Liberty Conference began their playoffs this week with two Semi-Finals, with Syracuse hosting American International College and UMass hosting Binghamton. In Syracuse, a tight first half saw the two teams level at 14 a piece. AIC came out of halftime on fire, rattling off three quick tries within the first few minutes of the half. Syracuse battled back to get within 4; but, after a penalty kick and AIC winger Chandler Cotton’s third try of the day, the game was put out of reach. AIC beat Syracuse ,43-38. Liberty 1st seed UMASS, hosted 4th seed Binghamton in the second Semi-Final. UMass got of to a hot start, as they scored within the first minute of the game and did not let up throughout the 80 minutes; winning 71-7.  UMass 8-man Terry Cullen scored a hat trick on the day.

Teams in rugby East finished their divisional play this past weekend, with four teams playing their last games of the season. #8 Penn State finished their divisional season in style, with a blowout win against Buffalo. Penn State shutout Buffalo 115-0, ending what has been a poor season for the Bulls in which they’ve gone 0-6 in league play and struggled to compete with teams in rugby East. Penn State on the other hand finished second place in rugby East, after their lone loss to Army. #10 Kutztown took on #14 St. Bonaventure, in a matchup between two sides looking to end their seasons with a winning record. Each side came in to the match at 3-2 in league play this year, with both of the teams losing to Penn State and Army earlier this season. Kutztown was able to edge out a win despite a strong performance from the Bonnies, beating them 52-39.

#3 Lindenwood began their conference season this weekend with a tight game against #7 Navy. While Navy had already played and won six matches this season, Lindenwood had not played any D1A competition since last spring. Lindenwood beat Navy 18-12, and scored all of their points with in a 22 minute span in the first half. In other Mid-South action, #18 Davenport defeated Clemson, 28-14.

Arkansas took on North Texas for the second time this year in the Red River conference. In their previous outing, Arkansas handily beat North Texas 97-29. However, this time around North Texas were able to control Arkansas for most of the game, even leading them 21-19 at halftime. Arkansas came roaring back in the second half though, scoring 22 unanswered points to beat North Texas 41-21.

After declining to take part in the Liberty playoffs, #12 Iona travelled to take on Notre Dame. Iona handily beat Notre Dame 55-21, in what was Notre Dame’s last game of the year.

In the lone non-playoff match in the Liberty Division this week, UConn took on Rhode Island in the final game of the fall season for both sides. Despite a three try effort from outside center Clayton Minnich, URI fell short and lost 17-25 to UConn.