Minnesota Bests Michigan State in Home Opener

D1A Rugby: Minnesota Bests Michigan State in Home Opener

Minnesota held off a hungry Michigan State in Minneapolis, MN this past weekend, winning 17-14. Both Minnesota and Michigan State anticipated earning their first conference win of the 2016 season. Minnesota lost in week one to Michigan and followed it up with an early bye week. Michigan State had already played some of the conference’s best in #6 Indiana and #19 Wisconsin. The last time the two teams faced each other, the Spartans trounced the Gophers 65-5.

This year’s match proved to be much closer, ending 17-14 in favor of Minnesota. The home team started strong by scoring their first try in the 15th minute through veteran 8-man Gabe Cesarini. Michigan State responded with consecutive penalty kicks from fly-half Ryan Britain and a 39th minute try by outside center Gavin Spisak, making the score 7-11 at half.

The back and forth scoring continued right after the half when new transfer student Isaiah Nichols Floyd scored his first Gopher try in the 41st minute to take the lead, 12-11. The new Gopher praised his new club’s welcoming atmosphere and hopes to continue to be an offensive threat though the season.

However, the Gopher lead was short-lived. By the 46th minute of the match, Ryan Britain’s third penalty kick of the day flipped the score once again and took the lead for the Spartans, 12-14. Gabe Cesarini’s 70th minute try bookended the affair and gave Minnesota the final lead, 17-14.

Minnesota will be pleased with their first win and will look to give #19 Wisconsin their toughest game yet when the Badgers travel to Minneapolis. Winless Michigan State will travel again next week and look to defeat a struggling Purdue team.

In other Big Ten action, #6 Indiana routed Purdue 86-0 and #20 Ohio State rolled Iowa 78-0. Both Indiana and Ohio State remain undefeated in 2016 and will face better competition in Michigan and Illinois, respectively, next week. Meanwhile, Purdue and Iowa are still looking for this first conference wins. Purdue will play Michigan State when they welcome the Spartans to West Lafayette, IN. Iowa will rest over their bye week before their tough matchup against #6 Indiana.