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In the DIA quarterfinals, all of the favorites came away victories. In one half of the bracket, St. Mary’s dispatched Air Force 77-17 and Utah overcame a tough Arizona side 36-14. In the other half of the bracket, Life blanked Davenport 44-0 and Lindenwood knocked off Indiana 38-26.
Air Force faced an uphill against St. Mary’s. Since last week’s play in game against Cal Poly was cancelled due to a heavy snowstorm, the Zoomies elected to play the match this Saturday rather than take the forfeit. The teams played on the St. Mary’s campus and despite struggling in the set piece, Air Force pulled off a comfortable 43-17 win. Cal Poly had no answer for the Zoomie back line.
Playing against a fresh St. Mary’s side in a one-day turn around was a tough ask. The Gaels raced out to a 38-0 halftime lead. The home side pounded in three quick tries and with the lion’s share of the possession continued to add points. The second half was more of the same but Air Force continued to fight. The Zoomies added a trio of tries but it was a mere formality as the two time defending DIA champs cruised into the semis.
The other match out west was much more competitive. Arizona jumped on Utah early, kicking a penalty and scoring a try to get things started. Taylor Thomas got one back for Utah but a penalty for Arizona would be all the additional scoring in the first half.
The Utes found their grove in the second half. The home side dotted down twice in the early stages before a penalty stemmed the momentum. Utah, however, added another penalty and a try to seal the match 36-14.
“We made one little change at halftime,” said Utah assistant coach Jon Law. “That change was better timing of our first man turning over contact. It helped us to secure the ball better and allowed us at the same time to utilize the ball and do something better with our options.”
For the third time this season, Life defeated Davenport. The Running Eagles beat the Panthers 58-10 in March and 34-0 in an April matchup. The Georgia side continued its shut out streak this go around with Cody Melphy opening the scoring for the home side. Zander Van Schalkwyk, Jason Riekena, Alex Maughan each scored a try while Maciu Koroi added to for the Running Eagles. Despite winning comfortably, though, Life was challenged by a Davenport team that was not expected to win.
“A tough ask to face Davenport three times. They’ll be disappointed a number of their breaks didn’t go to hand. They really moved the ball around this time and made us work. Always enjoyable playing DU and we share the same approach to the game with their staff,” said Life coach Scott Lawrence.
The final game of the weekend was the most competitive. Lindenwood traveled to the University of Indiana, and despite being without its coach, Deion Mikesell and Lorenzo Thomas, who are away with the Junior All-Americans, came away with a 36-28 victory.
Brandon Chalker scored the first of his three tries to give the Lions a 7-0 lead. IU responded almost immediately to tie the game with a try. The teams traded tries for the rest of the first half and only a missed conversion separated the sides as Indiana led 21-19 going into the break.
Chalker gave Lindenwood the lead with his third of the afternoon. A penalty and a try from Michael Baska extended the lead to 36-21. The Hoosiers salvaged a try late but Lindenwood held on for the 36-28 victory.
The semifinals will take place next Saturday.