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Division one college is really getting into full swing. While the SCRC got under way last week, a number of teams played their first conference match this week. The Ivy kicked off with a lone game, leaving the Red River, the Western Conference, the Southwest and the Deep South as the remaining major fall conferences yet to get underway.
Florida battled Mississippi State in its first run out of the season and came away with a 35-21 victory over the Bulldogs. It was a positive result for the Gators, who are looking to return to the playoffs again in 2016. Florida edged out Mississippi State last year for the final spot, and a win against them helps in the 2016 campaign.
“As you would expect, it was a very physical game but our forwards stood up well against them and held their own,” Florida coach Ken Simmons told Rugby Today. “The forwards gave us the ball gave us enough opportunities. I would say that our forwards were what did it for us yesterday.”
The Gators got off to a fast start capitalizing off of a couple of set pieces. Florida scored two quick tries putting Mississippi State in an early hole. The Bulldogs fought back, however, getting the game within three points to finish off the first half at 24-21.
Florida held the Bulldogs scoreless in the second half and a try and a couple of penalties to finish off the win 35-21. Justin Smith scored a try, had three conversions and three penalty kicks for a 20-point afternoon.
“We were able to shut them down in the second half. Defensively, we have a lot of work to do but I was really happy with the progress. They have been working really hard and they did well on the things we have been working on yesterday. We are looking forward to our next game,” Simmons added.
The other two conference games were lopsided shutouts. Kentucky blanked Georgia 41-0 and Alabama thumped Vanderbilt 86-0.
The Ivy League opened with one game on the docket. Penn and Cornell faced off with the Pennsylvania school getting the better of the New York school. After finishing 7th in the Ivy last year, Penn is much improved, beating a Cornell team that finished 3rd in the conference last season.
The game was tight throughout but Cornell led early. The Big Red notched an early try but Penn kept it close with a penalty. That would be the theme of the first half as Cornell scored a second try only to see Penn inch closer with a pair of penalties. At half, Cornell led 10-9.
Penn found the try zone in the second half, sandwiching a penalty between two scores. The Quakers held the Big Red scoreless in the second half to match its win total in conference play from last season.