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Lindenwood captured its second consecutive USA Rugby College 7s national championship with a 26-12 win over the University of California. The Lions steamrolled their way through the competition and avenged a DIAA semifinal loss to the Golden Bears in the process.
The Lions were incredibly dominant over the two days, only yielding points in the final game. Pool play included shutouts over Arkansas, Missouri and Utah totaling a staggering 158 points in the process.
The quarterfinals and semifinals were a little bit closer but Lindenwood had them well in control. A 22-0 win over Indiana in the quarters earned them a date with upstart Grand Canyon in the semifinals. Another 26-0 victory saw them through to the finals.
The other side of the bracket saw some top teams duke it out. Ironically, Lindenwood coach Josh Macy saw his former school AIC give Kutztown its first loss of the 7s season. With Wisconsin beating AIC at the buzzer, a three way tie ensued and ultimately the Badgers won the group on points and Kutztown finished second.
As a result, pool winner Arizona met Kutztown in the quarters and Cal faced off with Arkansas. Cal and Kutztown both won handily setting up the newly formed rivals for a semi final slog. The teams have met at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championships a number of times and Cal has always gotten the better of the Running Bears. This weekend was no different as Cal edged KU 31-15 for a date in the finals.
The first few minutes of the final were very sloppy as pressure from both defenses forced a number of knock ons. Lindenwood looked to get on the board first through Lorenzo Thomas but the USA Eagle was dragged into touch right as he was dotting down.
After four minutes, Nick Feakes quick tapped a penalty at midfield and darted forward. After a couple phases the Lions swung the ball right and Deion Mikesell beat his opposite number to get the games first score. Lindenwood led 7-0.
The Lions won the ensuing kickoff and continued to pressure the Cal defense. The ball went left to right and into the hands of Chris Schoeman. The center ran right and cleverly faked a switch with the crashing Thomas. He showed the ball and proceeded to sprint around the Cal defense, tip toeing down the right sideline for the score and a 14-0 lead.
Cal came out strong in the second half and answered right away. Zachary Tavenner found a gap in the center of the defense and was flipped over in the tackle just inside the five-meter line but not held. The winger was able to extend forward and dot down for the first points against Lindenwood on the weekend.
On the resulting kickoff, Lindenwood answered immediately. From deep inside his own half, Feakes split through two Cal defenders and outpaced the sweeper to extend the lead to 19-7.
The Bears refused to give up, however, scoring less than a minute later. After several phases down the left sideline, Troy Lockyear powered over to cut the lead to 19-12.
Lindenwood put the nail in the coffin with less than a minute to play. The Missouri school ran nearly a dozen phases patiently tiring out a frantic Cal defense. The Lions slowly worked down field and Wesley White finished things by slipping through a pair of tired Cal defenders for the game sealing try.
With the loss for Cal it is the first time in six years, that the University did not capture a title in 15s or 7s. For Lindenwood, it is their second consecutive 7s title and the team will have the chance to capture another in several weeks at the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship.