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The coveted spot in the CRC is one match away from being determined. Early this morning Utah shocked AIC with a 12-5 win and Notre Dame College bested James Madison 22-14.
Coming into the match AIC had averaged over 30 points a game. Utah, however, starved AIC of possession and dominated the breakdown.
“We had talked about it that if we gave AIC any opportunities they would sting us,” said Utah coach Mark Drown. “So we knew there had to be total control of the breakdown. In the violence of breakdown we had to have a man driving through.”
Gabe Ruflin and Mason Hafen dotted down for the Utes in the first half and with strong defense, Utah held AIC out of the try zone until the final minute of the match. Utah is now one win away from returning to the CRC. After winning the first ever CRC, the Utes are excited at the possibility of being back.
“It is the first time I have been part of a team that is going to get to play in the final in a 7s tournament,” Ruflin said of making into the final. “We have taken down big teams before, beat St. Mary’s last year. How we do it we starve them of possession. That is the key. It is all about game plan going in. Sticking to it…Ready to go win it.”
Notre Dame College continued its dominant performance with another win over James Madison. It is always tough to beat a team twice in a tournament but the Falcons capitalized on early mistakes and converted them into points. NDC played a majority of the first half in Dukes territory. A steal for one score an intercept in front of the posts and a third well worked try gave NDC a 17-0 halftime lead.
“I was happy with the start of the game. Obviously possession is the key thing in 7s but when you have to play defense you have to play it right. Guys stayed disciplined on defense and we just capitalized on turnovers,” said NDC coach Luke Markovich.
The Falcons continued to execute their game plan in the second half. After a JMU score, the Falcons extended the lead to 22-7. A late try from JMU closed the gap to 22-14 but it wasn’t enough for the Dukes. For the second time in three days, NDC defeated James Madison.
“I think every game has been a step forward for us in executing our game plan. There were some things we needed to work on after the last game against JMU. So really we stepped it up yesterday when we played Air Force,” added Markovich, “We changed a little bit of our game plan up to play against JMU. They are a great team and we had to make some adjustments and I think we did a good job of that.”
The final will take place in Sam Boyd Stadium at 2:57PM PST.