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In the penultimate weekend of the Chesapeake fall season, James Madison wrapped up the conference championship with a 33-14 victory over Virginia Tech. With no conference playoffs, standing points determined the champion with the Dukes earning 36 points narrowly edging out Mount St. Mary’s (35 points) for the title.
Although the Mount tied JMU with its seventh win of the season following a 98-12 pounding of Virginia, JMU produced a bonus point in each match where MSM missed the point in one game. In the remaining games, Mary Washington and Towson picked up their fifth wins against Maryland and Georgetown, respectively.
Two of the top clubs in the Chesapeake battled in Harrisonburg, Va. with potentially the conference championship at stake. JMU and Virginia Tech played tight for most of the game until the Dukes pulled away in the second half to win 33-14. Known for its offensive prowess, the JMU defense stepped up to limit the high-powered Hokies to two tries.
“We played very well defensively with the forwards carrying the work load on offense,” JMU head coach Mark Lambourne said regarding his team’s play. “We won the battle in terms of getting across the gain line and executed enough when the opportunities came.”
After exchanging tries to begin the match, JMU scored the next two tries to go up 21-7. A costly yellow card by the Dukes allowed Virginia Tech to cut the lead to seven points. With 20 minutes left in the second half, JMU’s impact reserves entered the fray and the pure physicality of the Duke team pushed them over the top scoring the final two tries of the match.
Commenting on the effort of his opponent, Lambourne said, “Virginia Tech was very physical with powerful running from their forwards and good speed on their wings. Their scrumhalf distributed really well and they were well organized. Well coached.”
After capturing its first Chesapeake Championship, Lambourne emphasized that JMU is building a program, rather than just a club. “It is important because it shows progress. It shows the university that we are developing a solid program with our fifth conference win in as many years and it was important to the players as they have worked really hard after we felt very hard done by at MSM earlier in the season.”
With the DIAA National Playoffs beginning in a few weeks, JMU will continue to work on its craft, get healthy, and be ready to combat any team it encounters.
Mount St. Mary’s concluded its 2016 regular season with a bang crushing Virginia, 98-12. The Mount culminated 14 converted tries by nine players and the defense limited the Cavaliers’ offense to two scores. Outside center Brandon Johnson and fullback Luis Turbyfield each scored a hat trick, while inside center Tito Miranda was a perfect 14/14 on conversions and added a try for 33 points.
“We had a different line up of young players this weekend, which created a lot of energy,” MSM head coach Jay Myles said. “We played within ourselves and although we had some young players in, they played with a ton of heart and composure.”
Joining to try parade for the Mountaineers was Keegan Lowensen, Jesse Linsenmeyer, Jack Spera, Nobert Bayelle (2), Dan Keene, and Brandon Lough.
Coach Myles stated that making the DIAA playoffs is extremely humbling. “Every weekend is a learning experience for our players and coaches. We have created an incredible amount of excitement on campus and the support from the university as well as the alumni is amazing. We need to continue to work hard and hold each other accountable. Our mantra is 'none of us is stronger than all of us' and each man on this team knows he must focus on the team before himself.”
The next destination is unknown as of yet for MSM, but it is highly motivated and vigilant for the playoffs. “This has been an incredible journey for the players and I believe they can succeed against anyone if they continue to stay humble and focused.”
After starting slow and getting gashed by long runs and sloppy play, Mary Washington came from behind in the second half to beat Maryland, 37-27. Down 22-8 at the half, the Mothers scored five straight tries to win the game. Eightman Andrew LaMarca’s try in the 52nd minute served as the turning point as UMW ripped off three more scores to take the lead.
“Even though the score didn't show it in the first half, UMW's backline was finally able to produce some nice attack with pace and in the second half the forwards and backs did a nice job of maintaining possession and moving the ball around,” Mary Washington head coach Min Sa Chae said. “The rucks were cleaned up, which led to faster ball and the team was able to attack more downhill.”
Long strikes of 50 and 40 meters by the Terps crippled UMW in the first half as the Mothers only managed to score an unconverted try by LaMarca and a penalty. Maryland took advantage of undisciplined play to kick a penalty and score a try off a scrum to lengthen it lead to 22-8 at halftime.
After Mattson Bueche made the tally 22-13 with some impressive phase play, the Mothers were prevented from scoring in their next attempts by a tough Terps defense. When LaMarca finally broke through 12 minutes into the half with a try, the dam burst as tries by Ewan Corley, George Northwood, and Justin Ford soon followed. Maryland never gave up and scored the last try of the match with four minutes remaining.
Virginia Tech comes to Fredericksburg, Va. for Mary Washington’s final showdown on the season. “Many people did not expect us to win this many games so we may have had the advantage of taking a couple of teams by surprise,” Chae stated. “JMU and MSM showed us where and what we need to improve on. Virginia Tech will be another measuring stick game for us as they have had a great season.”
On Saturday night under the lights in Towson, Md., the Tigers hosted old Potomac rival, Georgetown, in both club’s last game of the season. Towson’s offense and defense shined as it secured its fifth win of the year beating the Hoyas, 37-18. After a contested first half, the Tigers turned it on the second frame to emerge victorious.
“We went in very defensive minded, but we scored two tries in the first ten minutes and really were playing our gameplan flawlessly,” Towson head coach Don Stone said. “They righted the ship and ... did a good job of starving us of the ball and getting back into the game. It was very competitive first half.”
“In the second half, we broke the game open,” Stone continued. “They held the ball a lot, but when we got the ball, we made good things happen. We moved the ball and spread the field. A lot of long runs.”
Towson was in almost every game this year and considers it a success. “From our perspective, it was a very competitive season week in and week out,” Stone remarked. “When I came into this season, if I thought we would go 5-3 or 6-2 given how many people we graduated last year, I would have been very pleased with the outcome of this season.”
With over 50 players in the Towson program and the B-Side going 6-1-1, Stone stated that “the future looks bright with the depth that we have coming back. I’m really excited going forward.”