New Orleans and the Tampa Bay Krewe went toe-to-toe in the Men's Club DII Final on Sunday in Glendale, Colorado. New Orleans came away with a 27-21 victory and their first ever national championship.
The Krewe from Tampa opened up scoring in the 7th minute behind a try by prop Joe Hillbush and a conversion by Matt Mcginnis. A missed penalty kick and poor offensive continuity by New Orleans kept Tampa in the lead for the first twenty minutes of play, but the lead would not last long.
To the delight of the New Orleans team, winger Mauricia Urrutia found his kicking form in the 21st minute on a penalty kick and opened up scoring for the challengers from the Big Easy. Just five minutes later, Sean Malek rumbled into the try zone and gave New Orleans a lead they never lost.
Urrutia was given multiple opportunities to score on penalty kicks and he was able to record his second of the day in the 32nd minute, which extended their lead to 11-7 at the half.
The second half of play was one characterized by scoring runs by both teams.
Patrick Kennedy of New Orleans scored a try in the 42nd minute and was complimented by a conversion by Urrutia. This quick score made it 18-7 and allowed New Orleans to gain strong momentum early on in the half.
The forward pack for New Orleans dominated the scrum all day long and set the tone for their speedy back line to make breaks that seemed to wear down the Krewe. Big lock, Ben Benvennuti, punished Tampa ball carriers on multiple occasions and created substantial energy for his team. The New Orleans energy turned into Tampa penalties that gave Urrutia more kicking opportunities. Urrutia was able to kick two penalties through and bring the score to 24-7 through 55 minutes.
Faced with a three score deficit, the Tampa Krewe found themselves in dire straits with just 25 minutes to play. Like a champion, they fought back. Alex Pellicier scored a try in the 60th minute and Matt McGinnis was able to convert and bring the score to 24-14.
The Krewe were not to be denied their repeat and found new life in the last quarter of the game. Dustin Frank found the try zone in the 66th and Matt McGinnis booted the conversion through to bring the score to 24-21 and realign the status quo.
Now the men from New Orleans found themselves in front of a Tampa Bay train of momentum. With just 14 minutes to play, New Orleans scored the final points of the game, and were able to stamp out Tampa Bay in the end.