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Despite a late surge from Wheeling Jesuit, Army held on to a 34-29 victory in Wheeling, W. Va., Saturday. With the win, Army capped a perfect 8-0 season and claimed the Rugby East title.
Wheeling Jesuit opened the scoring with a converted try. The Black Knights then got on board through a Cody Brown try, and then winger David Huff put Army up 10-7. The Cardinals responded with a penalty to even the game in the 28th minute.
For the rest of the first half and most of the second half Army took control of the game. Captain Collum Magee added a try in the first stanza, while a trio of Andrews scored consecutive tries to take a 34-10 lead by the 60th minute mark. Andrew Fargo, Andrew Borer and Andy Sullivan all touched down for the Black Knights in the second half.
“We varied a little bit on our game plan and thought we could do a lot more than we could,” Wheeling Jesuit coach Eric Jerpe said. The Cardinals had a very bad day with the boot, failing to reach touch on a number of kicks. Combined with some poor tackling, it allowed a tremendously dangerous back three to counter attack and find space for Army.
Wheeling Jesuit continued to battle in the final 20 minutes of the game, adding three tries. Scoring the last two in the 72nd and 78th minutes, the Cardinals almost completed a tremendous comeback. Nevertheless, the Army defense held strong in the final minutes, giving the Black Knights sole possession of first place in Rugby East.
“I will give all that credit to the boys,” Jerpe added. “They just really dug deep and said wait a minute we can play with these guys. They went back to playing rugby instead of as individuals.”
For Wheeling Jesuit, the Cardinals' season ends. “We have been knocking on the door with the big boys that are all ranked. We just have not been able to break through as of yet,” said Jerpe.
Meanwhile for Arrmy, it is a great bounce back season after having last year’s campaign cut short due to disciplinary issues. With the win Army, finished a perfect 8-0 and champions of Rugby East. Coach Mike Mahon could not be happier with the way the season unfolded. “It’s great," said Mahon. "We are thrilled to be successful in a conference as tough as ours, particularly with Penn State and Kutztown in there, they are always top teams. We are very lucky that we are able to represent them as we move forward.”
Army will move onto the American Collegiate Rugby Championship bowl weekend in Charlotte on the weekend of Nov. 21-22, where a meeting with Life awaits.