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Blowouts and shutouts highlighted the second weekend of the Rugby East schedule as Iona, Army, and Wheeling Jesuit won by large margins. Iona welcomed Delaware back to the conference with a harsh 33-0 blanking and Army crushed West Virginia, 64-0. In its first league match, Wheeling Jesuit pummeled St. Bonaventure, 60-15. All of the clubs of the Rugby East will be in action next weekend, which includes Kutztown’s first game and a double-header for Army against St. Bonaventure and Buffalo.
After playing as a D1AA independent last season, Delaware was elated to be back in the Rugby East this season. The Blue Hens’ homecoming did not start as expected as Iona’s defense did not waver producing a 33-0 shutout. Iona avenged its opening weekend loss to Army by concentrating on defense and capitalizing on opportunities.
“We were clinical in defense,” Iona head coach Bruce McLane said. “We made our tackles and came up together. Our defensive pressure was able to give us opportunities to score in the pack.”
Elliot Collins, John D’Allara, Mike Marino, Ben Romeo, and Bryce Stanback scored for the Gaels and Santi Mascolo was three for four on conversions. Marino and Mascolo stepped up their play against Delaware and prop Nandipha Dube was a beast on defense.
With Wheeling Jesuit on Friday night at Penn State, McLane stated, “We’ve never beaten them, so it’s going to be a big challenge. They are going to try a give us a really heavy power game and its going to be whether or not we can cope with it. The key is stay in the game and not let it slip away from us. Defense will be key.”
Army locked up its second Rugby East victory of the season by crushing West Virginia, 64-0. The Mountaineers are still adjusting to life in D1A, while the Black Knights are finding their groove in the early part of the season.
Army head coach Matt Sherman indicated the key to the victory was playing in West Virginia’s territory and a focus on defense. “I was exceptionally pleased with our exit strategy playing in West Virginia’s half. We chose a lot better options of how we were going to get in their half and we executed better. On top of that, our defense was really stout and that created many attack opportunities as well.”
The Black Knights scored a total of nine tries, including exploding for six in the second half. Jake Lachina, Luke Huen (2), Nathan Williams, Alec Smith, Adan Szott, Rob Niscoir, Jareth Long-Garrett, and Jon Kim each dotted own tries for Army. John Royston and Kim combined for eight conversions and Royston added a penalty to open the contest.
Captain Luke Huen continued his strong season with another standout performance, but it was the true freshman combination at scrumhalf and flyhalf who shined. “Jack Royston and Mike McTiernan had their first starts as freshmen at the pairing and it is a challenging endeavor,” Sherman said. "They were up to the task and they handled themselves well.”
Army’s depth will be tested this coming weekend as it plays St. Bonaventure and Buffalo on back-to-back days. Meanwhile, West Virginia will travel to Kutztown for the Bears first conference match.
After dropping its first game of the season to Notre Dame College, Wheeling Jesuit has reeled off four straight victories. The latest win was 62-19 thumping against St. Bonaventure in the Cardinals first home game of the season.
Head coach Tommy Duffy’s presence has already shown to be fruitful in only his second game with Wheeling Jesuit. Duffy has preached a well disciplined, ball control philosophy with an emphasis on accountability and being conditioned to last the full 80 minutes.
It was total team effort for Wheeling Jesuit as eight different Cardinals scored tries in the win. Joji Valasiskala, Carter Landry, Frank Rolf, Allan Hanson, Alston Burton, Peter Malcolm, Cullen Buckley, and Hugh McAllister crossed the whitewash for tries. In the defeat, Jaret Williamson and Jinesh Shaji scored for the Bonnies.
Coach Duffy was especially proud the defensive effort his crew displayed on Saturday. “The defense was absolutely phenomenal. We were in the channels all day and we applied pressure constantly. We were harassing the scrumhalf-flyhalf exchange. We wouldn’t let them get the ball out of hands at all... Our tackling has improved greatly and the speed that we come up has increased tenfold.”
With the prospects of playing at Iona this weekend, Duffy stated, “This match is going to be a true test. Iona is a well-coached team with very talented players. I think we match up quite well with them, so I’ll be breaking down the film to see what we exactly what need to start focusing on this week towards Iona.”