Air Force and Colorado State leave Glendale with wins

D1A Rugby: Air Force and Colorado State leave Glendale with wins
Photo Credit: Ed Navarro

BOULDER, Colo. – The West converged on Glendale, Colo., this weekend for two matches. Colorado and Air Force got things started at Infinity Park, followed up by the “Border War” between Colorado State and Wyoming. Air Force was able to edge the Buffs in the first match, while the Rams were able to take control early and hold a lead throughout their match.

Air Force played in a physical match against the Buffaloes, but mental mistakes led to Colorado dropping the decision. Air Force had to rebound from a tough loss to Colorado State, a team that the Buffs beat earlier in the season, and did so in a big way against Colorado.

The Zoomies lit up the scoreboard first with a slotted penalty goal by Grigor Kerdikoshvili. Continuing their pressure on the Buffs, scrum half Kaiana Miller exploited a small gap in the Colorado defense and scored under the posts.

The Buffaloes began to play with some momentum after falling behind 10-0, but the effort wasn’t enough as Air Force snagged itself a 22-20 win.

The Falcons will need to play even harder than they did against Colorado when they travel to Salt Lake City Saturday to play the No. 4 Utes. Utah has steamrolled its West competition so far this season, and looks to do the same against Air Force. Colorado will travel to Laramie, Wyo., to face the Cowboys in its last West match of the season.

While the A-side Falcons were in Glendale, 28 Air Force players were playing in a tournament of their own in Albuquerque, N.M. The High Desert Classic, put on by the New Mexico Rugby program, hosted schools from across New Mexico and Colorado for a weekend of rugby. Air Force fielded two teams, consisting of mostly freshmen and sophomores, and was able to win the tournament with one of its squads, beating fellow West program New Mexico in the final, 24-10. The two Zoomie teams combined for an impressive 6-1 record at the tournament.

In the second match of the West doubleheader, Colorado State took to the pitch with confidence after its thrashing of Air Force the week before, and it showed early. The Rams took an early, 10-0, lead, but suffered a red card in the ninth minute after lock Logan Rutt slammed Cowboy Connor Liljestrom into the ground. After losing Rutt for the rest of then match, Wyoming tried to close in on the lead with a try by Cody Jerabek. Colorado State didn’t let the red card affect its play, as the Rams started a flood of tries after the Wyoming score, including a hat trick by Tommy Garland, a try by Oliver Jenkins, and a try by Carmine Hernandez, which put the Rams up, 30-7, at half.

The Rams scored two more tries before the 50th minute, widening the gap to 35 points with only 30 minutes remaining. Wyoming’s Justin Schaffer would barrel through the Ram defense for a try in the 55th minute, and Jerabek would show off his speed on a 30-meter try on the outside in the 76th minute. The Cowboys were unable to overcome the big deficit, however, losing this match to Colorado State, 47-27.