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Wisconsin vs Ohio State. Gregory Strommen Photo.

In the early start of the fall season in the D1A Big Ten and Rocky Mountain, the competition is already getting fierce. For the Big Ten, Michigan State remained undefeated, Wisconsin and Illinois improved to 2-1 and Minnesota picked up their first win. In non-conference play, Indiana dominated Notre Dame, 50-17. Out west in the Rocky Mountain Conference, it was Colorado State and Utah State defended their home fields with victories.

Big Ten

In Ann Arbor, Mich., it was Michigan State that took home bragging rights against Michigan in this rivalry match with a 26-0 shutout. Wing Gavin Spisak started things off four minutes in, then inside center Jacob Richmond followed up 20 minutes later, and two Ryan Britain conversions made it 14-0 at halftime.

The MSU defense stood strong in the second half while centers Samy Shelbaya and Richmond extended the lead. Britain’s third conversion marked the final score and the Spartans’ 26 points was more than enough in this one.

“I think the defense was incredible,” Michigan State coach Tim Britain said. “Michigan had possession a lot of the game, and were in our 22 a lot. Our defense was great, they covered all the channels, their tackles were good, they got turnovers, and moved it out away from the tryline.”

While the backs notched the tries, Britain tipped his cap to his forwards. “That backline can’t do anything unless the forwards are doing really well in the loose, and they did. There were some challenging conditions and they were able to get clean ball out to the backs on a regular basis.”

It was Wisconsin that won the defensive tussle at home in Madison, Wi. over Ohio State, 18-14. Inside center Hunter Crass put his team up with a try at 15’ and was followed by flanker Liam Eccles eight minutes later. The 10-0 lead held and the teams headed into halftime with the outcome very much in question.

Wisconsin extended the advantage to 13 with a penalty kick from hooker Ben Lehrmann, then the Buckeyes battled back as eightman Matt Stauder scored at 70’ and center Andrew Baldado converted. Wing Isaiah Scott scored the Badgers’ final try to put his squad up 18-7 with six minutes to play, but Ohio State wasn’t done yet. Wing Joseph Eramo closed the gap to 18-14, but with only two minutes left to play, the Wisconsin defense held from there.

“It was a wet, windy day so our dynamic backs were somewhat limited in what they could do,” said Wisconsin coach Nic Tyson. “Our tight five played outstanding rugby and won the set pieces. Man of the match went to captain and hooker Ben Lehrmann for his great defense and strong runs.”

Illinois spoiled Purdue’s home game with a 34-11 win in West Lafayette, Ind. The Boilermakers struck first with a penalty kick, then prop Aly Tasha put the Illini up with the game’s first try, 5-3. Wing Jonathan Toriumi followed up, then Purdue took the 11-10 lead into halftime with a try and penalty kick. However in the second half, it was all Illinois.

The Illini defense pitched a shutout in the second half while scoring 24 unanswered points. Prop Ivan Dilnyy gave his team back the lead at 47’ and flyhalf Joseph Lincoln, scrumhalf Thomas Wainwright, and reserve Wanya Gordon added to the final 34-11 tally.

Minnesota ran all over Iowa on the Hawkeyes’ home turf en route to a 49-5 win in Iowa City, Ia. It was 37-0 Golden Gophers by halftime and that was all the visitors needed and more. The try scorers for Minnesota were fullback Austin Barbeau, prop Quinn Williams (2), flyhalf Charles Shaw (2), eightman Gabriel Cesarini (2), inside center Gabriel Benitez, and lock Troy Gotch. Outside center Sam McVey notched a conversion as did reserve Josh Langeland.

Rocky Mountain

Colorado State scored a try in the game’s first minute and did not look back in a 69-6 win over Wyoming in Fort Collins, Co.

Following lock Jake Russell’s first minute try, CSU’s eightman Anton Barlow crossed the whitewash before Wyoming’s flyhalf Colton Wostenberg cut the gap to 10-3. Outside center Liam Wynne answered with another try for the Rams, but Wostenberg hit his second penalty kick to keep it to 15-6. Unfortunately for the visitors, those were their final points and the Rams had 54 more in them.

The rest of the try scorers for Colorado State were lock Duncan Frost (2), fullback John O’Connor (2), flanker Daniel Trump, and a hat trick for flyhalf Scott Nies. 

“We had a hiccup the previous weekend against Utah; it was a gut check for the team,” Colorado State coach Rod Hartley said. “We asked some questions here at practice all week. We got back to being ourselves in terms of how we want to play this game. We were well organized on offense [and played] great defense.”

Utah State defended home field with a convincing 44-26 win over Colorado in Logan, Utah. Flyhalf Jeffrey Clark put Utah State up 6-0 with a couple of early penalty kicks before Colorado scored the game’s first try to make it 6-5 at 15’.

Flanker Ian Newton struck for Utah State six minutes later and Clark’s conversion made it 13-5. However, it was Colorado that went on a run to go up 17-13 and sniff the upset with a four-point advantage at halftime.

Utah State took the lead back nine minutes into the second stand when scrum half Karson Wilson found paydirt and Clark converted yet again. The Aggies took control when Clark dotted one down himself and converted before the team was awarded a penalty try at 59’ to go up 34-17. The Aggies brought it to 46-17 with scores from outside center Chris Polinski and prop Morgan Smith before Colorado found the tryzone at 74’ to bring the game to its final score, 44-26.