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Life

Life is Good

Matches, Life, St. Mary's

Life is Good

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Life University prevailed in the second half of the D1A National Championship to edge out a dangerous St. Mary’s College side 16-14.  Match MVP Joe Cowley accounted for 11 of those points with a try and two penalties.

The first half saw St. Mary’s jump out to a 14-3 lead with two trademark Gaels tries, using great running angles and beating defenders one on one.  Gaels fullback Tim Maupin scored first, finishing off an excellent team try stepping defenders and putting down the gas pedal to score under the sticks. 

Ten minutes later, outside center Mike Haley sliced up Life’s midfield defense to touch down for a five pointer.  Garrett Brewer converted both tries.

Up 14-3 at the half, St. Mary’s looked extremely dangerous and were dominating the scrums.  Then the rain came.

A few light drizzles in the first half gave way to a downpour in the second, a circumstance that very much played into Life’s favor.  Having bested Arkansas State in similar conditions in the semifinal, they not only knew how to operate in slick conditions, their style of play is well-suited for them.  St. Mary's? Not so much.

As such, in the second half, Life started playing Life rugby.  They kept it tight, pounced on opportunities and drove up St. Mary’s tackle count.

Cowley got his team going in the second half with his boot and his pace.  He slotted a penalty and two minutes later got the ball on the right touchline, turned the corner on his defender, and won the foot race to the try line. 

“Once I saw him turn his hips, there was no coming back.  I knew I had to go for the corner,” the MVP recounted. 

Big Life prop Drew Ohmann scored the go-ahead try nine minutes later after St. Mary’s defense conceded a try after several minutes of defending their goal line.

That would be the last score of the game.  St. Mary’s had a few opportunities, but whether it was nerves or a slick ball, the passes just weren’t going to hand.

Frustration set in as well as St. Mary’s standout prop Nick Wallace was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle.  That negated St. Mary's set piece advantage and was compounded by the fact that Wallace's propping partner Jordan Bouey was in and out of play with some concern for his shoulder, but he toughed it out, earning the deep respect of Life’s players and coaches.

“(Bouey) was hurt but kept going out there and trying to compete. He was an absolute warrior,” Life Head Coach Dan Payne said.

The Running Eagles kept the pressure on St. Mary’s and were able to eat a lot of clock in the last 10 minutes.  St. Mary’s had one last shot with less than a minute on the clock when Life knocked the ball on five meters out from the Gaels’ line.  But a St. Mary’s knock on ended the game and Life claimed their first ever D1A National Championship.

Life captain  Colton Caraiga played his last game for Life and certainly made it count. He marshaled his troops well and ensured they kept their discipline in a game that featured some monster hits and intense physicality.

“It was a tremendous effort (from the forwards).  I told them they had to own the trenches and the backs would do what we could to control the pace of the game.  They stepped up when they really needed to in the second half,” Cariaga said.

MVP Cowley loved the defensive effort his side showed saying, “It was hard coming back from 3-14 at the half to win 16-14, not letting any tries in the second half was great.  That’s what we thrive on.”

When Payne was asked what comes next for the program after winning two national championships (they won the first-ever USA Rugby College Sevens National Championship in 2011) in three years, he had Cowley and Cariaga sum it up.

Payne said, “These guys can answer that question.  What do we try to do every Monday?”

Cariaga and Cowley replied, “Get better.  Constant improvement.”

“It’s great because there is no end game.  It’s constantly a challenge, especially at the college level because you’re graduating players and players are maturing and you’re asking new guys to step up every year.  It’s part of the challenge, but it’s also what makes it such a phenomenal opportunity,” Payne said.

Box Score:

Life 16

Tries: Cowley (47’), Ohmann (56’)

Penalties: Cowley (3’, 45’)

St. Mary’s 14

Tries: Maupin (20’), Haley (31’)

Conversions: Brewer (21’, 31’)

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Comments (44)

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  • Mr. Equality

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    Are you under the impression that USA Rugby and the Referee's Union do not evaluate and critique the performance of rugby referees? It happens at every level. I've had referees evaluated at many of the youth games I've coached. I'm certain that this game was evaluated. However, there is nothing that can prevent a mistake. That try in the corner was a "bang bang" call. No mallice was intended, the assistant referee and the the referee discussed it and made the best call they could. If the call had gone the other way, it would have been a 5 meter scrum. Who's to say Life wouldn't have scored after that scrum? The first try was not controversial, the player was tackled and made one move to score, that's within the law.

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  • Mr. Equality

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    Correction: linout at five meters.

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  • college rugby

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    Regarding your comment below - it would have been a line out and to say Life would have scored anyway is the most ridiculous comment. and it was the first try. sounds like you are coach and is that what you tell your team when the opposing team has a five meter scrum that most likley the team will score. How many times did life score in the game - 2 times both questionable - so to say that lIfe would have scored has no merit. you must be a life and that is great - good organization and strong team. My comments have nothing to do with Life and yet your obviously do. Since we are comments about teams - I would St Mary's is more interesting to watch. Their tries were pure rugby tries.

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  • Mr. Equality

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    What language is that you are attempting to speak?

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  • college rugby

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    you are jerk - i am writing this on my iphone - My mistake is trying to have an intelligent and thoughtful conversation with you.

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  • Mr. Equality

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    You give yourself too much credit.

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  • college rugby

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    My first language is German and second is Spanish - English is my third language.
    How about you???

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  • Man in Blue

    In reply to: Mr. Equality

    For the record, I was there and watched the game.... The referee missed calls on both sides... St Mary's was never called obstruction though it happened on numerous occassion including the second try. The ref didnt take a Life player and plant him, but he did call the dangerous play which included a ten minute penalty. The ref also did not cause a shoulder separation or any of the other injuries that occurred. And he didn't control the weather.... I think he did have a hand in the size of the trophy..... but then again maybe not.

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  • Borden Jewy

    I pity you both. Sacks of lifeless poo. Go home men. And fight the real fight

  • Wick Nallace

    I agree Borden Jewy these men have no grasp on whats important