Kutztown, Penn State earn victories to set up Rugby East title game

D1A Rugby: Kutztown, Penn State earn victories to set up Rugby East title game
Photo Credit: Kent Miller

BOULDER, Colo. – Kutztown’s hammering of West Virginia pushed the Golden Bears ahead of Army in the Rugby East standings. At the same time, Penn State took care of business on its own end, sending back Iona 56-12 Friday night. The Nittany Lions’ bonus-point win makes Nov. 7’s showdown between Kutztown and Penn State one that will decide the 2015 Rugby East Championship.

Penn State 56-12 Iona
Playing at home and needing a bonus-point win to keep pace with Kutztown, Penn State was plenty fired up for its Oct. 30 fixture against Iona. Tries from Christopher Burian, Connor Cassidy, and Malcolm May, as well as nine points from Jimmy Ronan, pushed the Nittany Lions to a 24-0 lead after 40 minutes.

Playing without both of its captains, John D’Allara and Andrew Rossi, due to injury, Iona had no answer for Penn State, which simply played at a faster pace than the visiting Gaels.

Malcolm dotted down a second time to open the second stanza, and Kevin Trotter, James Haley, and Zachary Barnes would score tries of their own for the Nittany Lions.

Iona loose forward Jonathan Petteruti would bag two tries of his own, but the vast majority of the 80 minutes belonged to Penn State, which eventually sealed a 56-12 victory. The loss finishes Iona’s Rugby East season with a 4-3 record. However, the Gaels have plenty of rugby left to play this fall with matches against the New York City Fire Department, Stony Brook, and Delaware over the next three weeks.

West Virginia 12 – 79 Kutztown
Playing a day after Penn State’s victory over Iona, Kutztown sought a bonus point win to keep its rival five points back going into its Nov. 7 match, and the Golden Bears did just that.

Led by Jason DeNofa and Murphy Lill, who each had two tries in the game’s opening frame, Kutztown raced out to a 39-7 lead at the break. Brandon Payne would touch down at the 52nd minute for West Virginia for the team’s second try, but those would be the final points the Mountaineers could muster. DeNofa and Lill each completed hat tricks, and Ian Carmichael scored two of his own to expand Kutztown’s final lead to 79-12.

After the weekend’s two dominant wins, Kutztown has earned 30 points in the Rugby East standings table, while Penn State sits behind both the Golden Bears and Army with 25 points. Army has already wrapped up the conference portion of its fall schedule, so the Rugby East title will come down to Kutztown and Penn State.

Trailing the Golden Bears by five points, the Nittany Lions will need to earn a bonus point against Kutztown by scoring at least four tries. In addition, Penn State must prevent the sixth-ranked Golden Bears from tallying a point in the standings in defeat, which means keeping them from scoring four or more tries, and beating Kutztown by seven or more. A convincing win over an undefeated Golden Bears side will be difficult to come by, but Penn State has one advantage going into the match – playing at the friendly confines of the West Campus Fields in State College, Pa.