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In the DIA quarterfinals, all three Mid-South competitors and reigning champions, St. Mary’s, advanced to the semi-finals in convincing fashion. Life and Lindenwood had little trouble with, Penn State and Air Force, respectively, and Davenport overcame a second half surge from Army at Anderson Rugby Complex.
In the most competitive match of the day, Army opened the scoring in the sixth minute against Davenport. The Panthers dotted down twice in a span of three minutes, however, to take a 12-7 lead. Jp Eloff broke through the line with a shifty sidestep and several phases later the Panthers dove over to extend the lead to 19-7. Another line break from Dominique Bailey and a few phases by the goal line, DU punched in another score for a 24-7 halftime lead.
The Panthers added another score to push the lead to 31-7 after a tremendous take on a box kick and looked to be in complete control of the match. The visitors began emptying their bench but the Black Knights refused to give up. After a quick tap from a penalty by Collum Magee, a penalty, and an Andrew Fargo try after fielding his own pooch kick, the Black Knights trailed 31-24.
The home side dominated for a 20-minute spell and almost tied the game. “We knew they were not going to go away,” said DU coach James Wood. “We knew they were going to come for 80 minutes.”
Davenport settled down, however, scoring a well-worked try after a number of phases. The Panthers went on to score two more tries for a 50-24 victory.
“There was one stanza where they got back into it where we ran a handful of phases, didn’t do anything real fancy and it kind of stemmed the tide for us,” Wood said of his team. “It got us back on the right page and from the point forward I thought we were all right.”
In Marietta, Ga. Life wore down Penn State with 51 unanswered points to cruise to victory. The Nittany Lions defended valiantly in the first half, holding Life off the scoreboard for the first 15 minutes of the contest. Life earned two penalties before Mitch Wilson scored the games first try of the game to extend the lead to 13-0.
“The first 20 minute we did not really come out of the blocks,” said Life coach Tui Osborne.” “After the first 20 we played in their half for most of the game.”
Penn State got on the board with a penalty, but it would be all the points the visitors would get on the afternoon. Life added a penalty and two tries to leave the game at 28-3 going into halftime.
It was all Life in the second half, as the Running Eagles cruised to a 64-3 win. “I was overall happy with our defense and the physicality. I think the boys stepped up today,” Osborne concluded.
Despite playing on the road, Lindenwood easily handled Air Force 59-12 to earn a berth in the semi-finals. 35 minutes into the match, Lindenwood held a commanding 40-0 lead. By halftime, the Lions led 54-0. Lindenwood Coach JD Stephenson indicated that his side’s ability to move the ball and execute in the attack paved the way in the first half.
“I think we were quite critical with the attack and phase play,” said Stephenson. “Continuity, time playing together and the guys building chemistry were really evident.”
Air Force outscored the Lions 12-5 in the second half but it was too little too late for the Zoomies. Lindenwood emptied its bench and with a heavy rain falling in the second half, the visitors only put up a try.
Kingsley McGowan and Cooper Maloney led St. Mary’s to a 72-26 victory of Utah. The home side jumped out to a 34-0 lead before Utah responded with two tries in the final minute of the first half.
In the first 20 minutes of the second half, St. Mary’s scored five more tries. The Utes added two late scores to St. Mary’s one, and the game ended in favor of the DIA reigning champions.
The semifinals will take place next weekend with Davenport traveling to the West Coast to take on St. Mary’s. Life narrowly defeated Lindenwood twice this spring and will host the Lions for their third meeting next Saturday.