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AIC defeated Ohio State 28-0 to capture the Heart of America Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship qualifier, booking a ticket to Philadelphia for the CRC in June. After losing in the LVI final two years ago to Arkansas State and then to Utah in the semifinals at LVI last year, all it took was a change of scenery for the Yellow Jackets to break through.
The AIC team’s that lost those heartbreaking games were different than the team that finally got to the CRC. The Yellow Jackets graduated a number of players last year and had to fill the gaps with a mixture of young players and senior leaders.
“The mission all semester was to get these young guys up to speed, build up their confidence to close that gap with the younger guys and the experienced guys who have been there before. I am really proud of the whole group. The older guys definitely led the way but younger guys provided an incredible spark off the bench, Guiry added.”
The Yellow Jackets finished fourth overall after the first day, winning both of its pool games. AIC defeated North Texas and Minnesota and earned a date with Oklahoma in the quarterfinals. The Sooners tested AIC, forcing overtime. AIC managed to win the overtime kickoff and a few phases later scored to keep its dream alive.
AIC met Davenport in the semis for a grind it out affair. The New England school outlasted the Panthers 10-5 to set up a date with Ohio State. The Buckeyes swept through pool play then defeated Wyoming and Arkansas on the way to the cup final.
Ohio State fielded the kickoff to start the championship but quickly conceded a penalty. After several phases, like he has so many times before, Christian Adams slipped through a gap after a hard line to give AIC the lead. The Yellow Jackets doubled the lead minutes later and it looked like it would go that way into the break.
With seven seconds left in the half, AIC Stalwart Marcus McIntyre went down with an injury. Freshman Royaal Jones came in and immediately intercepted a pass and ran the distance for a 21-0 halftime lead.
“I think after that interception try, it really took the wind out of Ohio State’s sails.”
AIC added one more try in the second half and blanked Ohio State with tremendous defense.
“We played really strong side to side defense and we were able to shut them out. They are a fast and athletic team. We communicated really well and shut them down,” Guiry explained.
The Yellow Jackets join Lindenwood as one of two qualifier winners for the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship on June 3-4. Now having finally gotten to the big dance, AIC will look to make it count.
“For our older guys that have been here before they feel relief but we are still hungry. Getting to the CRC is step one. Now we want to compete and put on a show there as well,” Guiry concluded.