STANFORD, Calif. – The University of Arizona’s inspired trek to the Men’s Division I-AA National Championship was stopped short by the University of Central Florida Sunday at Steuber Rugby Stadium, as the Knights won their second consecutive title with a 64-13 victory.
Knowing Central Florida would pound away at the Arizona defense, the Wildcats looked to get on the board early. Some penalty trouble for the Knights helped, setting up Kyle Rogers for a penalty kick in the 13th minute. Gunnar Johnson kicked a penalty of his own in the 17th minute to tie the match.
Another penalty gave Arizona a lineout within 10 meters of the Central Florida try line. Keeping possession, the Wildcats turned the attack into five points when Anthony Spencer dove over for the try.
Trailing, 8-3, Central Florida went to work with their strong style of play on the doorstep. Gerhard Veit sent a pass to James Boozer, who scored the Knights’ first try in the corner of the in-goal in the 24th minute. Scott Watters, named Men’s Division I-AA MVP after the match, opened his scoring account in the 31st minute, and Central Florida took a 29-8 lead into the half.
It did not get easier for the Wildcats, who were punished on each Knights attack and gave up five converted tries in the second half, a much different story compared to their big win against Bowling Green in Saturday’s Semifinal.
Central Florida defeated Louisiana State and South Carolina in Knoxville, Tenn., prior to its trip to California for the National Championship at Stanford. Arizona’s trip to Stanford was actually paved in Stanford, with the Wildcats’ Round of 16 and Quarterfinal matches against Long Beach State and the Cardinal played at Steuber Rubgy Stadium last month.
In the Men’s Division I-AA Third-Place Match, San Diego was shut out in the second half by Bowling Green, who scored 18 unanswered points to undo the Tereros’ 19-7 first-half lead.
Alexander Rollins opened the Tereros’ account in the ninth minute, but Justin Stevens replied five minutes later for Bowling Green. Each try was converted for a 7-7 tie, which was broken in the 19th minute following Sean Moheit’s try for San Diego. Garrett Saul added one more for the Tereros before the first-half whistle.
Bowling Green had an opportunity to cut the deficit just before the end of the half when a chip kick bounced into the San Diego try zone. The ball appeared to be touched down by the Falcons, but the assistant referee deemed the ball to have bounced into touched.
Bowling Green came out of the 10-minute break with renewed vigor, shown by an Adam Garnaut try in the 47th minute. Dane Szente converted the try to make the score 19-14, and the Falcons found themselves in the lead after two penalty kicks from Teddy Terezis. Frank Viancourt added an insurance try in the 80th minute for Bowling Green.