NCAA

Cal mauls its way to 5th straight Collegiate Rugby Championship title

Cal mauls its way to 5th straight Collegiate Rugby Championship title

CHESTER, Pa. — After nearly 14 hours of play over the course of Friday and Saturday, the stage was set for Championship Sunday at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championships at Talen Energy Stadium.

With plenty of silverware to be handed out on a near-perfect afternoon, the only question left to be answered was which teams would be ending their 2017 campaigns as champions.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner
For the fifth straight year, the Pete Dawkins Trophy is headed back to Berkeley, California. The Golden Bears, who entered the weekend as the tournament's top seed, faced off against Life University in the Cup final — a rematch of the two sides' meeting from 2013, when Cal won its first title. Connor Sweet gave the Golden Bears a boost to close the first half with seven points at the horn before teammate Sam Cusano's try made it 12-0 midway through the second half.

The onslaught continued as Cusano added another score, pushing the Cal advantage to 19 points. And with the Running Eagle attack looking pretty much dead, Life was unable to get on the board, as the Golden Bears retained their crown yet again, 19-0.

The first trophy of the afternoon went to Life's women. After cruising to the women's Cup final, the Running Eagles blew past Lindenwood on their way to the title as Life scored 17 unanswered points following the Lions' first try. Although Lindenwood scored once again just before the final horn, it was not enough as the Running Eagles capped off their weekend with a 17-12 win.

After a hard-fought Plate final between Wisconsin and Dartmouth, everything came down to a kick. As time expired, Big Green scrum half Ollie Englehart barged in for a try that pulled Dartmouth to within a pair of the Badgers at 12-10. But the junior could not put the game-tying two-point conversion through the uprights, giving Wisconsin bragging rights in the second-tier bracket.

It was a Palmetto State clash in the men's Bowl final — Clemson and South Carolina met for the second time this season after the Tigers crushed the Gamecocks, 48-10, in the teams' late January matchup. This time around, though, it was a much more even affair as the teams traded leads throughout the match. Ultimately, South Carolina got the better of its in-state rival, 24-19.

Battle of the Golden Bears
In an early candidate for match of the day, it was a showdown between the two sets of Golden Bears on the men’s side — California and Kutztown. The teams did not meet last season but had faced off against one another each of the past three years at this same event, including twice in the title game.

This time, the Golden Bears met one another in the Cup Quarterfinals and once again, it was the West Coasters who wound up on top. Despite a Kutztown fan section that seemed to swell to close to 500 by match’s end, California jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first half before the locals got on the board just before halftime.

Cal donned its traditional navy blue and gold striped uniforms, but with the hashtag, #TryForPaylor, emblazoned across its chests. Entering the weekend, the Golden Bears had not played since May 6, when sophomore Robert Paylor was paralyzed from the waist down during a match against Arkansas State. Cal posted an update regarding Paylor's health on its Facebook page Friday.

Although Kutztown eventually cut the California advantage to just a pair with less than three minutes to play in regulation, a Zach Tavenner try salted the game away and sent Cal to a sixth consecutive CRC Rugby Sevens semifinal.

Living the good Life
Among the top programs in collegiate rugby — on both the men’s and women’s side of things — is Life University. The private university located just 30 minutes outside of Atlanta in Marietta, Georgia, boasts an enrollment of only about 700 undergraduates.

Although the Running Eagles compete in just a handful of sports at the NAIA level, their rugby programs and neon green uniforms have become the school’s identity. And despite a small student body, Life brought plenty of noise to Philadelphia.

With a couple hundred 20-somes clad in bright green visors and sunglasses filling the southwest corner of the stadium, the Running Eagles had easily the best supporters’ section of the day — one that could certainly match up with the Union’s Sons of Ben.

Fortunately, Life’s fans had plenty to cheer about this weekend. After routing their first four opponents by a combined score of 227-0, the Running Eagles’ women made quick work of Dartmouth, 26-5, en route to the Cup title game.

Life’s men fared equally well on the final day of competition. After a late try and conversion saved the Running Eagles from a Cup quarterfinal upset against St. Mary’s, Life eased its way into the Cup finals behind a late surge, winning 24-14.

Out with a whimper
There was little standing in the way of Penn State’s women during their first two days in Chester. The Nittany Lions held their opponents to just 10 total points in three pool-play games Friday and cruised into the Cup semifinals thanks to a 39-0 shutout of Bloomsburg Saturday.

But Sunday, Penn State was sent packing early. Facing Lindenwood, the Nittany Lions dug themselves an early hole, going down 10-0 before finally scoring their first points of the day to cut the Lions’ halftime lead to just three.

Trailing 20-14 late in the second half, Penn State took control of the ball for the final possession of the match. And although the Nittany Lions were within just a few feet of scoring the potential game-winner after the clock had hit all zeroes, a Penn State turnover ended the Nittany Lions’ once-promising tournament run.

For the locals
A number of Delaware Valley teams struggled Sunday, with just St. Joe’s earning a chance to play under the bright lights of the stadium field. The Hawks and their bearded beast of a coach, Dan Yarusso, picked up a 21-14 win against Keystone State rivals Penn State on the Academy fields but mustered only five points in their Plate semifinal loss to Wisconsin.

After going scoreless and winless Saturday, Temple showed a bit of offense Sunday morning against Clemson. Still, the Owls lost 14-12 and were eliminated early in the Bowl quarterfinals. And Delaware did no better, dropping their own Bowl quarter to South Carolina, 19-7.

In the women’s matches, Temple fell to Notre Dame, 21-5, in the Challenge final and the Lady Blue Hens suffered a 31-point shutout at the hands of the same Fighting Irish squad.

My all-name team
Duncan and Zander van Schalkwyk, Life

Harley Davidson, Life

Kina Malafu, Kutztown

Kendal McCracken, Lindenwood (women)

Noah Niumataiwalu, Saint Joseph’s

Dawit Workie, Dartmouth

Mid-match competition of the day
Even though Dartmouth’s teams finished the tournament with solid performances (the women lost in the Cup semifinals and the men came up just short in the Plate final), the Big Green’s best showing came from a pair of robots.

The Mobile Virtual Player, better known as MVP, is a robotic tackling dummy developed at the New Hampshire college used to help mimic moving opposition during practice. We didn’t get to see them put to their true use, but instead, fans were treated to the hilarity of young children chasing the dummies around the field.

Yes, the kids came away victorious, stealing a ball from each of the helpless dummies — but hey, maybe a war of man vs. robot is closer than we previously thought.

Penn football falls late at home against Yale

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Penn Athletics

Penn football falls late at home against Yale

BOX SCORE

Kurt Rawlings connected with Christopher Williams-Lopez for a 4-yard touchdown with 4:11 remaining in the game and Yale rallied for a 24-19 victory over Pennsylvania on Saturday.

Rawlings threw for 199 yards and two scores for the Bulldogs (5-1, 2-1 Ivy League), who won at Penn (2-4, 0-3) for the first time since 2007. Yale's Zane Dudek carried 12 times for 103 yards and a score.

The Quakers, who trailed 18-10 at the half, recovered a pair of fumbles in the fourth quarter to take a 19-18 lead. The first turnover led to Jack Soslow's 44-yard field goal and the second resulted in a 2-yard TD run by Tre Solomon. But Rawlings led the Bulldogs on an 11-play, 80-yard drive for the winning score.

Penn senior Justin Watson caught 10 passes for 120 yards and a 23-yard touchdown reception. It was an Ivy League record 16th career game with at least 100 yards receiving and he tied a school record with a TD catch in his sixth straight game. His 27 career scores ties the school record.

Sliding Temple visits Army; Penn hosts Yale in need of Ivy win

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USA Today Images/Penn Athletics

Sliding Temple visits Army; Penn hosts Yale in need of Ivy win

Temple (3-4, 1-3 AAC) at Army (5-2)
Michie Stadium, West Point, New York
Saturday, noon, CBS Sports Network

Last time out
Temple lost to UConn, 28-24, last Saturday.

Army beat Eastern Michigan, 28-27, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week against UConn, the Owls committed 12 penalties for 117 yards. Despite putting up 229 more yards and 13 more first downs than the Huskies, Temple couldn’t finish drives late in the game to pull out the win.

Temple’s schedule doesn’t get easier this week. The Owls play an Army team riding a three-game win streak and boasting the second-best rushing offense in college football (378.4 ypg). That will be the matchup to watch as Temple averages 167.1 rushing yards allowed per game, good for seventh in the American Athletic Conference.

Temple’s starting quarterback Logan Marchi missed some practice time this week, but head coach Geoff Collins said he expects him to play Saturday. If he can’t go, look for backup Frank Nutile to replace him.

What it means
Temple’s performance against UConn was embarrassing, while the Owls' bowl hopes would take a severe hit with a loss to Army. Tulsa and Cincinnati are the only other opponents on the schedule against which Temple should be favored. Navy and UCF, on paper, look to be tough matchups for the Owls.

Series history
Temple owns the 7-5 series advantage and is 6-1 against Army since 2008. That one loss came last year when the Black Knights beat the Owls, 28-13, at Lincoln Financial Field in Temple’s season opener. 

What's next?
Temple has its bye before hosting Navy on Nov. 2.

Army travels to Air Force. 

Penn (2-3, 0-2 Ivy) vs. Yale (4-1, 1-1 Ivy)
Franklin Field
Saturday, 1 p.m., NBC Sports Philadelphia+


Last time out
Penn lost at Columbia in overtime, 34-31, last Saturday.

Yale defeated Holy Cross, 32-0, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn has the worst scoring defense in the Ivy League, which doesn’t bode well for its chances in this one considering Yale has the best scoring offense in the league. The Quakers allow 32.6 ppg and the Bulldogs score 41 ppg. Penn’s total defense is also last in the league, allowing 449.2 ypg.

The Bulldogs take control on the ground with the best rushing offense in the Ivy. Zane Dudek and Deshawn Salter lead the Bulldogs, as both have rushed for more than 400 yards and each has seven touchdowns. Penn will have to win the battle in the trenches to slow down the Bulldogs.

Series history
This is the 84th meeting between the teams. The Bulldogs hold a 46-37-1 advantage but Penn has won 19 of the last 25.

What’s next?
Penn travels to Brown.

Yale hosts Columbia.