Men's Rugby Take 1st Place In Las Vegas Invitational

The Kutztown University Men’s Rugby team recently returned from Las Vegas, Nevada where they made KU Rugby history. The current 2018 team is the first in the club’s illustrious legacy to bring home the collegiate crown from Las Vegas. Billed world wide as the largest rugby 7’s tournament in North America, two hundred and seventy five teams arrived in Las Vegas to compete in various divisions over the four day event. On Thursday morning, Kutztown started their ascent with a convincing win over Miami of Ohio University. Sophomore Dmontae Noble, led the scoring with three trys. Freshman Gerald Lowe crossed the line twice, followed by Sophomore Brandon Boon’s try. Sophomore Jackson Clark converted four out of six as the Golden Bears started the day with a 38-7 victory. 

Ninety minutes later, the opponent was the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. Once again the KU youth movement was at work with Gerald Lowe scoring two trys, followed by Freshman Keegan Barnes, Dmontae Noble and Brandon Boon scoring one try a piece. Graduate student and Co-Captian, Murphy Lill also dotted down for a try. Once again Jackson Clark converted four out of six for a final score in Kutztown’s favor 38-0.

The final match of the first day’s pool play saw the Golden Bears line up against UNLV. The Running Rebels allowed Kutztown to cross the try line five times. Keagan Barnes led the assault with two trys. Junior Angel Santiago, along with KU’s Co-Captains, Murphy Lill and John Sage, chipped in with a try. Jackson Clark hit four out of five conversions and The final tally was 33-7, in favor of the Golden Bears. 

On day two, the quarterfinal seedings were announced and the qualifying eight teams were Kutztown, Lindenwood-Belleville, Colorado State, Utah, St. Joe’s, Air Force Academy, Utah State and Northeastern. The Golden Bears drew Colorado State as their opponent. The Rams were also undefeated in pool play and considered by many as a strong challenge for Kutztown. Once again, Gerald Lowe, Keagan Barnes and Dmontae Noble scored for the Golden Bears. Jackson Clark crossed the line and Junior Joe O’Shields found pay dirt. Jackson Clark converted two out of five attempts and Kutztown fought their way into the semi-finals with a 29-10 victory.

When the quarterfinal dust had settled, Kutztown found themselves slated to face the University of Utah. The Utes have a very successful rugby sevens history. Winners of the initial Collegiate Rugby Sevens Championship (CRC) and a prior Las Vegas Championship, can be found on their resume. The Utes also had a Kutztown scalp from the only time they met in 2014. The match started off with Utah penetrating the Kutztown defense twice, only to be thwarted near the goal line each time. Dmontae Noble made a break and out ran the Utah defense for the first score of the game. Jackson Clark converted. The two juggernauts fought back and forth until Utah made a long sideline break to score under the post and the game ended in regulation, tied at seven a piece. This was now sudden death overtime and the opportunity to play in the championship, was on the line. At the two minute mark of sudden death, Kutztown drove deep into Utah territory and off of a penalty, played superb defense, driving Utah near their try line. An infraction against Kutztown, resulted in a scrum to Utah. The Utah scrum-half made a break for the weak side of the field but saw Kutztown’s Joe O’Shields blocking his way and in danger of being driven out of bounds. In desperation he flipped the rugby ball back to one of his teammates. However, that ball never found his teammate. In a brilliant heads up play, Kutztown’s Brandon Boon intercepted that pass and dove into the try zone for the win. Kutztown pulled it out 12-7 and were on their way to the championship match.  

The championship against LIndenwood-Belleville University was played the next day on Saturday, during the World Series of International Sevens, in Sam Boyd stadium. The international World Series of sevens is a professional competition that travels world wide over a period of eight months and is a pre-requeset competition for the Olympics. Las Vegas is one of the stops on their tour. The collegiate championship was scheduled between the international games on that day. Hence, the collegiate championship match would debut in front of twenty thousand plus fans. The Golden Bears were up for the challenge and put on a crisp, skilled display of rugby, much to the approval of those in the stadium. Kutztown’s defense and attack stages were superb. Dmontae Noble started the scoring with an electrifying fifty yard scamper. Then, Senior Jason DeNofa and Murphy Lill contributed with outstanding runs of their own. Keagan Barnes and Jackson Clark crossed the try line, along with two conversions by Clark on the day. The final score was 29-7.

KU will be back in action this weekend in Bermuda.