Knights repeat as Men's Division I-AA National Champions

Knights repeat as Men's Division I-AA National Champions

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.

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Comments (3)

  • Guest - steve roper

    A superbly coached effort by UCF they had a game plane they stuck to it well done Jason Granich and players.

  • Guest - Hortense

    In reply to: Guest - steve roper

    Does USA Rugby have a mechanism to force teams up a division if they win a lower division? I'd love to see teams like USF and Arizona play in the D1A playoffs so teams like San Diego and Bowling Green can play for a D1AA Championship.

  • Guest - Kyle McCormick - UCF Rugby

    In reply to: Guest - Hortense

    USA Rugby doesn't nor could they. I've read a bunch of talk like this saying we should play up a division. We were barely able to fund the travel for the playoffs. How would you expect a student funded organization to pay to travel to play the few teams in the Southeast or the East Coast that are D1-A?

    This team wouldn't have been playing at the level we were in the final if it weren't for the time and competition (albeit not as competitive as last year, no offense to any team that we played this year) that we had to get new guys up to speed. One thing that is hurting collegiate competition is Varsity Cup, not necessarily their fault.

    And the people that say, "UCF should play up a level because their school is so large" and/or "their players are such well trained athletes," forget that 2 years ago NO ONE on a national level knew or cared about UCF. We were some D1-AA school that paid their dues to USA Rugby and might win a Florida Cup or make it to the conference championship but ultimately wouldn't receive much from the Union.

    If you're looking for a mechanism to get schools with fresh athletes and playing styles, money talks. Teams turned down bids to the Sweet 16 in large part because of money. The list of teams volunteering to fly down to Orlando to play us is nonexistent and there is no incentive for teams to travel in such a manner. We wouldn't shy away from any level of competition and with the way we ended our season we'd welcome it.

    Next year the UCF team will have a core group of guys and possibly a coach but they don't have private facilities, a large alumni base, paid staff or a fresh crop of new recruits.
    D1-A has well established programs with strong foundations for funding. Would you move a team up one year because of stellar performance the previous year? Then back down if the cards aren't right? USA Rugby didn't cut a check for us to fly from Orlando to San Francisco. Reimbursement for travel is a good starting point. One of our players fronted the plane tickets on his credit card. None of our players are on scholarship nor is our coach paid, most of our players bust their ass in the gym, on the field, and at a job. Last year our coach put it perfectly, "We don't have the money, we don't have the resources, but we do have a National Championship." And with a ton of work we earned another, we outworked everyone in our division and I hope UCF does it again and again. I hope that UCF moves up and wins D1-A but without the money to travel to face that competition it can't be done.

    On top of travel reimbursement, USA Rugby could make an effort to get involved with the universities that show promise and make the game more accessible. Directly involved, meaning harassing the Athletics Department at UCF to form a legitimate varsity team. That would be a great mechanism.