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Abel Barrientes Photo

New Mexico Highlands scored two tries in the last thirty seconds to steal the NSCRO Cup championship at the Penn Mutual CRC in Philadelphia. MVP and Captain Kevon Williams darted in from twenty meters out as time expired to cap off the epic comeback.

“The whole tournament we have been struggling to get a good kickoff and I told our kicker that we needed a good kick. He got the ball in the air. Jeremy Misalegalu Went up and got the ball and we rucked over. We hadn’t rucked that good all year. I went in on support and just started calling for the ball. As soon as I got it, I just started smiling as I went in for the try,” said Williams.

Misalegalu, nicknamed Missile had a terrific tournament for the Vatos and according to Williams is the motor for the team. Williams has no doubt he will be the captain next year.

“In my opinion, I think I got the MVP because I am the captain and I am a senior. He has really stepped up and become a leader on the team…..He is probably one of the best if not the best player on the team,” Williams said of Misalegalu.

New Mexico Highlands has a miniscule 2,400 student population. Even more remarkably, the Highlands traveled across the country and have played the entire season with a player coach. Captain Kevon Williams balances the rigors of family life (he has a wife and two kids) and the commitment to playing with and coaching the rugby team. Williams will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree this winter and plans to remain as the coach of the team.

“I just try to coach ourselves up. I just try to keep every body’s head on straight. At first nobody was buying in but once we started buying in everybody just came along with it. Now they understand the process,” said Williams.

Despite the obstacles, the New Mexico Highlands plays an incredibly athletic brand of rugby and defeated a New England College team that is making the jump to Division IAA next season.

“We are all just brothers. We all just get together and look out for each other,” said Williams. “We practiced four days out of the week when were in 15s. We practice at 6 AM and for sevens we practiced four hours a day for this whole last month.”

The hard work paid off as the New Mexico Highlands came away with hardware in Philadelphia.