NCAA

Kutztown advances to Cup Quarterfinals at Collegiate Rugby Championship

Kutztown advances to Cup Quarterfinals at Collegiate Rugby Championship

CHESTER, Pa. — A man simply identified as Dan appeared on the jumbotron Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium. He was the participant, or better yet, the victim, of a halftime giveaway game, a harmless, usually forgettable PR stunt. But Dan’s experience offered more.
 
The game was “The good, the bad and the ugly.” Dan’s simple objective was to name five teams participating in this weekend’s Collegiate Rugby Championships. He did and had the choice of three prize packs — one good, one bad and one ugly. He chose prize pack C, which ended up being the bad. He received a black trash bag and had to collect garbage from those sitting nearby. Sorry, Dan.
 
The jumbotron gig mimicked the rugby witnessed during Saturday’s opening round of pool play. The teams that were supposed to be good were, in fact, good. Local schools’ failure to advance to the Cup quarterfinals constituted the bad. And some of the lopsided scores were downright ugly. 
 
Of the 24 teams competing in the CRC, five hail from the region: Temple, Saint Joseph’s, Penn State, University of Delaware and Kutztown. Only Kutztown advanced to the Cup quarterfinals, explained below.
 
Teams are split into six four-team pools, playing each team in their pool once in a 7-on-7 match with seven-minute halves. In such short contests, the importance of a single score and the damage of a costly mistake are magnified. 
 
Winners are awarded three points while losers get one. A draw results in two points for each team.
 
Pool winners, along with the two top-scoring second place teams, advance to the Cup quarterfinals, the most desirable landing spot out of the tournaments happening Sunday. The next best eight teams place in the Plate quarterfinals, while the bottom eight find themselves in the Bowl quarterfinals. Everyone’s a winner, except not really.
 
The good
Kutztown looked like it’d be the one local school to advance to the Cup quarters. In four years of CRC participation, it's gone to the finals twice. Based on the product it put on display in Pool F, it appeared ready to get over the hump this year. 

The Golden Bears used some shifty jukes to make South Carolina look silly in Game 1, walking away with a 36-0 win. Against Tennessee, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some Volunteers left with broken ankles. Dmontae Noble and Aaron Gray danced around the opponent. Indiana completely reversed the narrative, though, when it handled Kutztown, 29-19, in the evening’s penultimate battle. 

The loss left the Golden Bears in second place with just seven points, but thanks to a massive point differential of 75, it was enough to qualify for the Cup quarters as the final seed.
 
Cal, the other Golden Bears, has won this tournament four years in a row. It didn’t land the toughest draw and coasted through Pool E. In a morning bout with Clemson, the Golden Bears allowed a couple of early tries but emerged smoothly 33-12. 

Penn State appeared to pose a challenge at times but faded as well. When Cal would reverse field, the last man had enough speed to break free and sprint for a try. But when Penn State tried to swing it, it seemed as if a wall of Cal defenders met them every time. The result was a Cal win, 28-19. And as for Delaware, it didn’t even look like they belonged on the same field as Cal, who wiped out the Hens, 54-0.
 
The bad
St. Joe’s fared decently, but after missing the Cup quarters by just one point last year, it surely would have liked to have finished better than third in Group C. The Hawks took down Navy in their early match. They had some bright moments against Army, including a Noah Niumataiwalu rampage that took a hoard of Black Knights to take down and that eventually turned into a try a few tosses later. But St. Joe’s is a program on the rise and has a ways to go before reaching the top. As such, both losses to Army and Lindenwood came by double digits.
 
Penn State had respectable results as well. The Nittany Lions routed Delaware 31-0, to start. The 28-19 loss to Cal was about as good as a team can hope for against a powerhouse of Cal's magnitude. And in the evening’s last match against Clemson, the Nittany Lions impressed with a 31-7 win. Unfortunately for them, their seven points weren’t enough to place them in the Cup quarters. It’ll be the Plate for them.
 
The ugly
Those outside of Temple’s camp saw a tough weekend coming for the Owls. The team’s been plagued by injuries this year. Still, it would’ve been tough to predict things going as poorly as they did. 

Temple finished the day without notching a single point while allowing 94. By the end of their third and final defeat, the disappointment showed. Distraught players fell to their knees and held their arms above their head in disbelief as Boston College, a team that lost its first two outings of the day, scored another easy try to bring it to 24-0. Fortunately for the Owls, the clock ran dry soon thereafter to put them out of their misery.
 
Some of Delaware’s experience was just as hard to watch. There was the shutout at the hands of Penn State. It fell narrowly to Clemson, 20-12. But the last bout with Cal was cringeworthy, and not just because one attempt to tackle a Golden Bear ended up pulling down his shorts to briefly expose his rear end. Cal was faster and more fluid. It scored at will. The game ended at 54-0. 
 
But Temple and Delaware weren’t the only schools to contribute to the flood of blowouts. A team was shut out 10 times Saturday. Tennessee supplied two of them, with Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and South Carolina each chipping in an empty effort as well. These teams did well to get to this point, but the results Saturday just go to show the gap between the good and the great. 
 
Bonus points
• The Army-Navy football game is one of the more celebrated collegiate sporting events every year, so it was fun to see the two service academies square off in Pool C. Midshipman Torran Raby inflicted an early stiff arm that got a good reaction from the crowd. The match stayed within one-possession for its entirety. But a try from the speedy Black Knight Harrison Farrell with a little more than a minute to play sealed the deal for the Black Knights, whose postgame jubilation was the most excitement displayed all day. The rivalry is real between the two institutions.

 
• Life University’s captain is named Harley Davidson. Really.
 
• St. Mary’s owns historic success, with three national titles in 15-on-15 play. Dartmouth has reached the CRC quarters every year but one since the event began eight years ago. When the two met in the final game of Pool A, each with six points, a close contest was brewing — until the second half happened. The Gaels took a 7-7 tie at the midway point and used bad Big Green turnovers to turn it into a 26-7 drubbing. 
 
• Life and Arkansas State, both teams expected to contend for the championship, went into its final Pool B match with two wins each. Both teams scored within the first few seconds of their initial possession. One Red Bull was handed a red card in the final minute as things got heated. Life took advantage of the man-up situation and tied the match at 19, where it would end in a tie. 
 
• Dan came back on the jumbotron later, and it was revealed he also got some food vouchers in addition to his trash bag. Congrats, Dan.

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

Temple-UConn observations: Despite valiant effort from Marchi, Owls lose 1st homecoming game since 2008

BOX SCORE

That’s why football is a week-to-week game. Forget about momentum.

Temple found that out the hard way. After coming alive in a big road win over East Carolina last week, the Owls were humbled when a fourth-quarter rally fell short Saturday in a 28-24 homecoming loss to Connecticut at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Owls had one final shot at the victory with a drive in the final minute, but a Logan Marchi heave to the end zone was broken up.

The loss dropped Temple back under .500 at 3-4 (1-3 American Athletic Conference). UConn moved to 2-5 (2-2) with the victory.

• Say what you want about Temple quarterback Marchi (and you surely will after this game), but the guy is a fighter. Whether things are going his way or not, he continues to try to search for his receivers and attempt to squeeze the ball into those windows on the field. He made it two consecutive games with 300-plus yards passing as he was 33 of 54 for 356 yards with one touchdown and one interception Saturday.

• The game marked Temple’s first homecoming loss in nearly a decade. TU hadn’t suffered a homecoming defeat since a 7-3 loss to Western Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. On that day, former Eagles DB Jaiquawn Jarrett was beaten in coverage on a double move in the third quarter for the game’s lone touchdown. Coming into Saturday, the Owls had won eight straight homecoming matchups by an average margin of 19.3 points.

• There was a rare sighting for Temple at the Linc: a rushing touchdown from a tailback. In fact, there were two. David Hood, who became the first Owls tailback to score on a run this season in last week’s rout of East Carolina, punched it in from one yard out to open the scoring in the first quarter. Ryquell Armstead weaved his way into the end zone for a 10-yard TD on the first play of the fourth quarter.

• Delvon Randall is simply a playmaker. The Owls’ leading tackler, Randall added another five stops in Saturday’s win. The junior DB also made a beautiful play along the sideline in the first quarter when he undercut an out route for an interception. It marked Randall’s third straight game with a pick. The Owls only have four interceptions this season and Randall has three of them.

• My colleague Greg Paone touched on college football’s targeting rule a couple of weeks ago (see story)We agree on pretty much all of the nuts and bolts of the rule. I’m glad it’s in place to protect players from violent and unnecessary hits. However, the more I see it called each week — and it seems like there is at least one in every game now — the more I’m starting to dislike the implementation. Temple defensive lineman Sharif Finch was ejected for targeting on Saturday when he went high on Huskies quarterback Bryant Shirreffs on a third-quarter touchdown pass. Shirreffs sold the hit by jerking his head back as he fell to the ground, but it was definitely worthy of a penalty. Was it a late hit? Yes. A bone-headed hit? Absolutely. But one worthy of Temple losing a top defensive player for the remainder of the game? I don’t think so.

• Speaking of Shirreffs, it’s easy to see why the Huskies have the best passing offense in the AAC. He didn’t show it with yardage in this tilt (just 105), but he was able to connect on three touchdowns through the air. He also added 39 yards on the ground, including a key run up the middle late in the fourth quarter.

• The Owls simply aren’t a good enough team to overcome 12 penalties for 117 yards.

• Like any other major college football game around the country, Saturday’s matchup at the Linc had scouts from NFL teams listed to attend. Of course, the Eagles were listed for several scouts in their home stadium. While the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers were also among those expected to have representatives at the game, there was only one other team labeled for more than one scout besides the Eagles — the New York Giants. At 0-5, they can certainly use all the help they can get right now.

• Temple will look to rebound when the Owls travel to play their final non-conference opponent in Army at 12 p.m. next Saturday.

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

usa-logan-marchi-temple.jpg
USA Today Images

Temple eyes streak, Penn looks to dethrone Columbia, Villanova on the road

Temple (3-3, 1-2 American) vs. UConn (1-4, 0-3 American)
Lincoln Financial Field, ESPNews
Noon Saturday

Last time out
Temple beat East Carolina, 34-10, last Saturday.

UConn lost to Memphis, 70-31, last Saturday.

Scouting report
Last week, quarterback Logan Marchi finally got on track with his first 300-yard game of the season against East Carolina. This week, the redshirt sophomore will face UConn, the team he initially committed to in high school under former coach Paul Pasqualoni. Marchi was then denied after a coaching change was made. The Huskies have the worst passing defense in the AAC, giving up 399.8 passing yards per game, and have allowed 19 touchdowns through the air in 2017. If Marchi can play well for a second week in a row, look for Temple’s offense to put up some points. 

Another matchup to look at is UConn’s passing attack against Temple’s defense. The Huskies’ boast the best passing offense in terms of yards in the AAC, averaging 325.8 yards per game, but have only scored nine touchdowns this year. Temple, on the other hand, allows the eighth-most passing yards in the conference (253 yards per game), but is ranked fourth in the conference in scoring defense, allowing 26 points per game. Connecticut must convert drives into touchdowns against this Owls defense if it wants to compete.

What it means
Temple’s hopes to reach the AAC championship game might not be realistic anymore but its bowl hopes are still alive. A win against UConn would put the Owls just two victories away from becoming bowl-eligible, which after their start would be good for Owl fans.

Series history
Temple holds the 12-5 series advantage over Connecticut, and is currently on a three-game win streak.

What’s next?
Temple travels to Army.

UConn hosts Tulsa. 

Penn (2-2, 0-1 Ivy) at Columbia (4-0, 1-0 Ivy)
Robert K. Kraft Field at Lawrence A. Wien Stadium
1:30 p.m. Saturday


Last time out
Penn lost at Central Connecticut State, 42-21, Saturday.

Columbia defeated Marist, 41-17, Saturday.

Scouting report
Penn’s strength is its rushing attack. They rank second in the Ivy League averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. Karekin Brooks has 543 yards rushing and five touchdowns so far this season. Getting the ground game going will be key for the Quakers this week.

Columbia defense has been strong so far this season. The Lions rank second in the Ivy League in total defense only allowing 316 yards per game and are third in the Ivy in pass defense. The Lions allow 194.8 yards per game through the air.

Series history
This is the 96th meeting between the teams. The Quakers hold a 73-21-1 advantage and have won the last 19 editions.

What’s next?
Penn hosts Yale.

Columbia is at Dartmouth.

Villanova (4-2, 2-1 CAA) at James Madison (5-0, 2-0 CAA)
Bridgeforth Stadium
6 p.m. Saturday


Last time out

Villanova defeated Maine, 31-0, Saturday.

James Madison beat Delaware, 20-10, Saturday.

Scouting report
Villanova has allowed just 1.6 yards per carry and 52 rushing yards per game this season. The Wildcats boast a strong scoring defense as well, the best in the Colonial allowing only nine points per game.

James Madison boasts the second-best rushing offense in the CAA averaging 223 yards per game and is second in scoring defense. The Dukes allow just 10 points per game to opposing offenses. Look for this game to be defensive showdown.

Series history
This is the 26th meeting between the teams. James Madison leads the series 14-11 and won 20-7 last season.

What’s next?
Villanova hosts Elon next Saturday.

James Madison travels to William & Mary next Saturday.