Week 16 Recap: Central Washington and North Texas Claw Their Way Back Into Winners’ Circle

D1A Rugby: Week 16 Recap: Central Washington and North Texas Claw Their Way Back Into Winners’ Circle
Photo Credit: Central Washington Athletics

What was shaping up to be a weekend filled with quality D1A action hit a slight bump, when the only matchup with two ranked teams- #4 Saint Mary’s at #20 Grand Canyon– was cancelled due to travel issues. The game has been rescheduled for March 2. Regardless of the cancelled fixture, there was plenty of excitement around the competition.

#14 Central Washington travelled to take on Cal Poly this weekend, as the Wildcats looked to bounce back after losing handedly to Saint Mary’s two weeks ago. Central Washington ran away with this game from start to finish, ending with a score of 66-10 over the Mustangs. The Wildcats got on the board early, as number 8 Alex Mackenzie barreled over the line to score in the opening minute of the game. Central Washington was able to rack up 33 points going into half time, including a second try from 8-man Mackenzie in the 16th minute of the match.

The second half started in a similar manner to the first half, as Central Washington’s outside center John Wendling was able to break through the Cal Poly defense to score in the first minute of the game. Later in the second half both wingers, Cole Zarcone and Marques Fuala’au, crossed the try line for their second tries of the day. Central Washington never gave the Mustangs a chance to stage a comeback. Cal Poly scored their lone try of the match in the 54th minute of the game from number 8, Michael Daly.

Despite the commanding win over Cal Poly, Central Washington’s head coach Todd Thornley thought his team still had much to improve upon, “We are nowhere near our peak yet and we don’t want to be. We just want to continue to improve as the season goes on. Our attack was good at times but struggled at time with retention, our defense had good shape but our first up tackles at times were poor. Our set piece was much improved from two weeks ago but still not dominant.”

North Texas and LSU faced off in the Red River conference this past weekend. Each side entered with only a single win each and sat near the bottom of their conference pools. North Texas got points on the board early as they were able to score two quick tries in the first ten minutes of the match to put them up 12-0. LSU came storming back though and scored three converted tries to put them ahead. LSU held this lead for most of the game; but after two yellow cards against them, their lead began to slip. With a LSU player in the bin North Texas fullback was able to break the LSU line and score. Following a successful conversion, North Texas were only down by two points with 12 minutes left to play. In the 75th minute of the match, North Texas was awarded a penalty within kicking range of their inside center Justin Crader. Crader successfully converted the penalty and put his side ahead 22-21 with five minutes left to play. North Texas were able to keep LSU from scoring during the next five minutes, resulting in a close but well-earned victory.

On Thursday night, #1 Life took on Texas A&M. It was a mixed bag for the defending champions; while they won the game, it was not their sharpest performance as they were pinged for fifteen penalties on the day. Despite, the high penalty count against them, the Running Eagles were still able to land a convincing 70-3 win over the Aggies.