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Central Florida won its second-straight DI-AA National Championship Sunday,
trouncing Arizona 64-13 at Steuber Rugby Stadium in Palo Alto, Calif. The
Knights and Wildcats traded barbs early on, but the Knights proved too big
to deal with.
First blood was drawn 13 minutes in when Arizona's Kyle Rogers slotted a
penalty following an infringement from UCF at the breakdown. The Knights
responded five minutes later with a penalty of their own, leveling the
table at 3-3.
Arizona applied pressure off the ensuing restart, and and after
forcing a penalty the Wildcats kicked to the corner for a five-meter
lineout. They missed with a long throw, and UCF tried to run out of its own
end. The Wildcats turned the ball over, went through several phases and put
Anthony Spencer in for the game's first try.
Jack Arnold displayed some quick hands on the movement, passing to prop
Jarrett Bunnin, who rumbled forward and dished to Spencer. The conversion
was missed, making it 8-3 to Arizona with just over a quarter of the game
Central Florida evened the score in much the same way it got behind.
Arizona tried to play too much rugby in its own end, UCF turned the
Wildcats over, and the Knights strung together a tying possession. No. 8
Gerhard Veit got the ball near the touch line, drew in the last defender
and slipped a pass to wing James Boozer for the try, recalling visions of
the game-winning score from the 2013 final. The conversion missed, UCF and
Arizona were tied 8-8 with 13 minutes to play.
Central Florida kept pounding away with strong forward runs, and Scott
Watters, who'd worn Arizona down with several impact runs throughout the
half, dove over on a pick-and-jam from inches out. Gunnar Johnson hit the
conversion, putting UCF up 15-8 with just over five minutes to play in the
Sean Nelson looked like he was going to pour on another five points when he
caught Arizona without a man in the pillar position and ran ahead 40
meters. He was caught, though, and lost the ball forward.
The Knights didn't let Arizona out of their own end after the run, and
turned the ball over. Flanker Samuel Levi then spun his way through two arm
tackles and fell into pay dirt for the try. Converted, it put the Knights
up 22-8 with just a minute to play in the half, which was enough for the
Knights to add one more try. This time it was scrumhalf Harold Chiffleau
darting in from inches out. The conversion was made, and UCF carried a 29-8
lead into intermission.
Halftime didn't slow the Knights any, as back-to-back-back tries pushed the
lead to 50-8 less than 15 minutes into the half. All were again results of
hard-charging runs followed up by more hard-charging runs.
After another UCF try and a long Knight defensive stand, Arizona punched in its second try in the 65th minute. Arnold missed the conversion, and the game was still well in hand with UCF leading 57-13. The Knights managed one more converted score for the final tally of 64-13.