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With three weeks left in the Rugby East season, Wheeling Jesuit, Kutztown, and Iona earned valuable wins to position themselves for the postseason. Conference leaders, Penn State and Army, were idle Saturday as Wheeling Jesuit overpowered Buffalo, 29-6, Kutztown crushed Delaware, 62-19, and Iona stomped West Virginia, 73-14.
Wheeling Jesuit improved to 3-1 in the Rugby East with a 29-6 win over Buffalo. The Cardinal offense and defense were on point throughout the game despite having to adjust to difficult officiating. Wheeling Jesuit was about four minutes from a shutout when Buffalo’s Dyson Sprouse scored in the 76th minute.
“Our key to victory was that we stayed working within our offensive and defensive systems,” WJU head coach Tommy Duffy said. “Despite being broken of our rhythm time and time again, we played our pace and worked our lines and corners well. Our kicking game kept pinning them back and we dominated the scrums and lineouts. Pete Malcolm has a solid match along with Orion Mann and Joji Vakasisalaka.”
On Buffalo’s effort, Duffy praised the play of his opponent by saying, “UB played a very good, fast-paced offense. They were very quick and aggressive as well as working the ball out of the breakdowns many times.”
Wheeling Jesuit faces its most difficult test of the season next week at Penn State. If the Cardinals can beat the Nittany Lions in State College, Pa., they will be still alive for the conference title.
Like Wheeling Jesuit, Kutztown needed a win on Saturday in Newark, Del. to keep pace in the Rugby East. Against Delaware, the Bears blew out the Blue Hens, 62-19. Kutztown scored ten tries in the victory with its dynamic freshmen dotting down six of them. Eightman Joe Thatcher crashed through for four tries in the matchup and fullback Brandon Boon picked up a hat trick.
“Boon scored out wide and Thatcher scored up the middle,” Kutztown head coach Gregg Jones said. “Our forwards continue to play really well to get good ball out wide. Delaware was bunching up around the rucks, so we were able to beat them outside.”
Coach Jones indicated that ball control and using width were keys to the victory. Kutztown used its forwards to pound the ball inside sucking in defenders and then exploiting Delaware’s weakness outside. Aaron Gray, Jack Estes, and Callum Bartlett each scored tries for the Bears and flyhalf Jackson Clark was six for ten on conversions.
Kutztown also has a difficult road game this coming Saturday in West Point, N.Y. versus Army. The 6-1 Black Knights pose a significant challenge to the Bears as they have had an extra week to prepare for this important match.
After picking up its second win of the season over West Virginia, 73-14, Iona is on the outside looking in with two winnable games remaining. The Gaels jumped out to a 26-0 lead before the Mountaineers could score a point. With the 38-7 at the half, Iona would go on to score another 35 points in the second half limiting West Virginia to only one more try in the game.
Eliot Collins and John Powers each scored a pair of tries in the win and Lavar James, John D'Allara, Matt Crowe, Bryce Stanback, and Mike Marino each found the endzone. Santi Mascolo outscored West Virginia all by himself with a try and nine conversions for a total of 23 points. In the loss, fullback Luke Ellis scored two self-converted tries for the Mountaineers.
Although Iona beat its opponent by a sizable margin, head coach Bruce McLane was still critical of his team’s performance. When asked how the Gaels played, McLane responded, “Not well, but we did decent stuff at times. We overwhelmed them. WVU did some good things with excellent individuals, but they were carrying their team alone.”