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Men’s rugby travels to Georgia to face the life of four-time national champions

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Men’s rugby travels to Georgia to face the life of four-time national champions
Men’s rugby travels to Georgia to face the life of four-time national champions

 

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The Navy men’s rugby team (5-0, 2-0) plays its first true road game of the season at Life (1-0, 1-0) on Saturday in Marietta, Georgia.

The Mids and Running Eagles will face off as conference opponents for the first time at Lupo Family Field at 1 p.m.

Fans can stream the game on FloRugby (subscription), with links at NavySports.com(.)

“We look forward to traveling to Marietta, Georgia to face Life tomorrow,” said Director of Rugby Gavin Hickie. “We know we will be tested in all areas of our game, so we need to ensure we are precise in our attacks and continue to work hard on our defence. We must take advantage of all the opportunities that are presented to us or that will be presented to us tomorrow.”

Kutztown Game Summary

A strong second half gave Navy a 55-15 win over Kutztown, marking its first win over a Rugby East North Division opponent this season.

An early turnover by the Golden Bears gave the Mids possession in their offensive zone. Ben Haugh drove Navy to the five-yard line with a 30-yard carry. Andrew Baublitz’s shot set up the score in the sixth minute, giving the Mids a 5-0 lead.

Navy made a number of key defensive moves to maintain its lead over the next 19 minutes. Haugh helped the Mids end their goalless streak by trying to make the score 12-0 in the 25th minute.

In the 34th minute, Navy again found itself in excellent field position after Kutztown committed a follow-up penalty at the 10-yard line. The Golden Bears were later assessed an offside penalty to give the Mids the opportunity to attempt a penalty kick. Roanin Krieger scored from 25 yards out in the 37th minute, extending Navy’s lead to 15-0.

Kutztown responded with a line break to advance into its offensive 22-yard zone, but lost possession due to a subsequent penalty. The Mids stormed back down the field to the 10-yard line on their offensive side of the field. Landon Opp then took a free kick inside the 22 meter zone and the ball was picked up by JD Bengston. Bengston slid past the only defender in his path and scored a try just before the 40th minute. The result gave Navy a 20-point lead at the break.

The Golden Bears had a player go down in the 42nd minute after receiving a yellow card. Opp took advantage of the defense having one player less by finding a big hole during his attack to score a try in the 44th minute, giving the Mids a 27-point lead.

Kutztown got on the board with a penalty in the 47th minute, but Navy responded quickly. Baublitz brought the Mids into their offensive 22-yard zone with a big carry after a short kickoff. Opp surprised the Golden Bears with a pass to Tanner Russell, who ran the remaining 15 yards for a try just 52 seconds after the penalty.

Multiple penalties against Navy gave Kutztown its first try in the 55th minute, cutting the lead to 34-8.

Sean MacLaney and Michael Kalalau both tried from close range in the 59th and 67th minutes to bring the Mids back under control with a 40-point lead.

Avion Ganse made the move of the game in the 72nd minute. The freshman caught a free kick near Navy’s 22-yard defensive line and broke through the defense with a 50-yard run. Ganse then offloaded the ball to Baublitz, who used it the remaining distance to try to give the Mids a 55-8 lead.

The Golden Bears scored the final score of the game with a try in the 78th minute.

Navy notes

• It took the Mids no more than seven minutes to score their first attempt on goal in a game this season. Navy’s fastest score came against Notre Dame just a minute into the game.
• Although the Mids scored a season-low 55 points against Kutztown, the offense is still averaging 78 points per game and 12 attempts per contest.
• Navy once again made it difficult for its opponents to complete tackles. The Mids forced 43 missed tackles last Saturday and have recorded 40 or more missed tackles in all five games this season.
• A key factor in Navy’s defensive success was keeping the ball out of the defensive zone. Kutztown was only able to keep the ball in its offensive half of the field for 36 percent of the game. The Mids have kept the ball in their offensive zone for 60 percent or more of a game four times this season.
• Navy was outstanding at lineouts for the second week in a row. William Webb was successful on 10 of his 11 throw-in attempts and Ryan Raimondi finished with a perfect 3-3. The Golden Bears converted just eight of their 14 lineouts and had three lineout steals.
• Saturday’s game against Life marks Navy’s first true road game since March 25 at Army. The Mids finished with a 6-0 record on the road and won both neutral site contests last season. Navy’s only away game in Annapolis this fall was the season opener against Notre Dame in Dublin, Ireland.

Individual Navy Notes

• Kutztown had no answer, stopping Haugh when he had the ball. Navy’s team captain recorded 84 yards gaining on nine carries and led the team with 10 broken tackles. The senior scored his team-leading seventh try of the 2023/24 season and has scored 21 tries since the start of last season.
• Krieger led the Mids with 15 points against the Golden Bears, increasing his point total to a team-leading 78 points. The sophomore is also the leading scorer in Rugby East with 41 points in conference play.
• Bengston, Haugh, Opp and Russell all scored a try for the third consecutive contest last Saturday. Haugh and Lewis Gray hold the record for the longest try streak in Navy collegiate history with five consecutive one-try games.
• Baublitz’s two tries against Kutztown brought his total attempts this season to six. He surpassed Krieger (four) in the most attempts scored by a freshman in a single season.
• Rob Booth returned to the starting lineup last weekend and led the Mids with 10 tackles.

Rugby East updates

St. Bonaventure defeated Penn State 21-15 for another important win in the North Division. The Bonnies now lead the Rugby East overall and North Division standings by 14 points.

Navy sits second in the conference standings with 10 points.

Army and Notre Dame College recorded their first tie of the season. The two teams battled through muddy conditions and ended in a 9-9 draw.

Life took on Mary Washington in its first game as a member of Rugby East and won the competition by a score of 40-21.

Queens bounced back from its tough loss to Navy with a 52-28 win over Southern Virginia to pick up its first conference win.

Fans can view the updated Rugby East standings HERE and next weekend’s schedule HERE.

Scout life

Life opened its season last Saturday with a 40-21 win over Mary Washington in its opening game as a member of Rugby East.

The Running Eagles joined the Rugby East after previously competing in the Mid-South Conference (now Midwest Rugby Conference) with Arkansas State, Davenport and Lindenwood. They compete in the South Division with Mary Washington, Mount St. Mary’s, Queens and Southern Virginia.

Men’s Rugby was declared a varsity program at Life in 2010 and has since grown into one of the best teams in the country. The Running Eagles played in the national championship game for seven straight seasons (2013–19) and won four titles (2013, ’16, ’18, ’19). Life’s four national championships are the second most won by a single program behind California’s 26. Additionally, the eight finals appearances are tied with Air Force for the second-most appearances.

The Running Eagles finished the 2022–23 regular season ranked sixth in the country and secured third place in the Division IA East playoff round. After an 82-0 victory over Texas A&M in the opening round of the playoffs, Life lost to Lindenwood 29-8 in the quarterfinals.

The Running Eagles return junior Adam Chadwick and senior Donovan Law to their roster. Both players earned CRAA DI-A All-America honors for their performance last season. Additionally, sophomores Logan Ballinger and Leon Best were selected to compete on the USA U20 rugby team this summer.

Navy last met Life in the first round of the 2022 CRAA Division IA Playoffs. The Mids took a 13-12 lead in the second half, but the Running Eagles scored the final 14 points of the contest to post a 26-13 win.

Next

Navy returns home next Saturday to face St. Bonaventure. A game that will have a huge impact on who wins the Rugby East North Division title. The Mids and Bonnies will kick off at noon at the Prusmack Rugby Center in Annapolis, Maryland.