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The overwhelming favorites, Central Washington, Kutztown, Cal, Life and Arkansas State, all won in the opening rounds. But there were some upsets, and there were some surprising results.
The biggest upset featured Navy knocking off back-to-back CRC champ Dartmouth 21-10. Dartmouth jumped out to a 10-0 start off of a pair of Parker Gilbert tries, and Navy got on the board in the seventh minute when Alston Harper dotted down. Rickey Feller slotted the conversion, bringing Navy to within three at halftime, 10-7.
Feller scored a try and conversion in the ninth minute to give the Midshipmen their first lead at 14-10, and Seamus Siefring ran in a long-range five points to put the nail in Dartmouth’s coffin two minutes later. Feller converted.
It’s apparent Dartmouth is definitely affected by the loss of a really great senior class.
Another intriguing result was Delaware’s 17-0 shutout of Davenport. The Panthers lost their motor, Ryan Hargraves, very early on to injury. Jimmy Kowalski streaked across the field and delivered a big hit to Hargraves, stole his ball and put the Blue Hens on the offensive. Hargraves didn’t get up for some time and was carted off the field.
St. Mary’s narrowly escaped the grasp of Western Washington, relying on a try from Bubba Jones at the death to steal the 19-17 win. The Vikings played well, and St. Mary’s didn’t, but eking out the win took a lot of energy from the Gaels.
Kutztown laid down a marker with a 50-0 defeat of Virginia. Every team is keeping an eye on point differential, with only two second-place teams after pool play getting into the Cup Quarterfinals. The Golden Bears are the first team to set themselves apart in the point differential category.
Central Washington also scored a shutout, 19-0 over Texas, but could have put more points on the board. Shelby Williams showcased impressive speed in his National Championship debut, racing in two tries. But the Wildcats left some opportunities unconverted.
One of the other more important results was Lindenwood beating San Diego State 21-17. The Lions hadn’t played a lot of 7s coming into the weekend, but it’s clear they have the ability to do so, and they’ve become a contender in knocking off the Aztecs. Morgan Findlay scored two tries and slotted three conversions, putting in the best individual performance of the first round.
In another key match, Cal Poly beat Air Force 19-12, putting the Zoomies in a position where they have to perform really well the rest of the day. Air Force scored first, but the Mustangs scored 19-straight points in the meat of the game to secure the win. Air Force’s Eric Schreck did score to close the game to a seven point difference, but did so at the death.