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Life University defeated Penn State 69-14 and Cal bested Lindenwood 43-22 to head to the DIA finals next week at St. Mary’s in Moraga, Calif. Like the semifinals, the final will be broadcast on CBS Network.
In the first of the two games, Life jumped out to a strong first half lead and Penn State had no answer for the Running Eagles. Less than 20 minutes in the hosts were up 29-0 and Brian Muntanga had already netted a hat trick. The hooker is a strong runner and was the beneficiary of superior forward play. Muntanga would get his fourth of the day and Life would lead 41-7 at half.
Life is so clinical in the set piece. Six Running Eagle tries came off the set piece and in different ways. Severals scores came via a maul off a line out while several others came from a pushover scrum. The set piece is critical and there is no team in the country that does it better than Life.
The Running Eagles tallied four converted tries in the second half to extend the lead to 69-7 before Penn State added another score at the death. This will be Life University’s sixth consecutive DIA National Championship in a row but the first of which will be against an opponent other than St. Mary’s.
Life will have to go across the country once again this year to play at St. Mary’s but this time it will against a Cal team that they have not played since a 2011 semifinal loss.
Lindenwood looked to continue its momentum after beating St. Mary’s last week but were nowhere near as clinical in this match. Cal capitalized on Lion mistakes to go on a 24 point scoring advantage in the first half. After Lindenwood scored to make it 7-0, the Bears added a penalty and three tries, including a blistering run from winger Sam Cusano against the run of play to make the game 24-7.
Lindenwood `regained some momentum late in the first half with a try and a penalty early in the second to cut the game to 24-17. However, after the teams traded scores, Cusano and Justin Dunn both got their second scores of the day to seal the win.
It was a lot to ask for Lindenwood to go to the west coast back-to-back weeks and to face an opponent in Cal who was playing in their own backyard.
“It was a big ask on our players this week to put that many miles under their belt and play a team like Cal. We were a step slow but kudos to the Bears for taking advantage of the situation,” said Lindenwood coach Josh Macy.
The Bears were much more clinical this week than the prior week against Navy and were able to exploit space out wide with both wings scoring a pair of tries. They will need to be just as clinical to beat a tough Life team next week.
The teams will meet on the campus of St. Mary’s for the DIA national title this Saturday at 5 p.m. ET. The game will be aired on CBS Sports.
Both Life and Cal were unavailable for comment.