BOULDER, Colo. – Three teams took to the pitch for their first West matches of the season, and two of them showcased their talents with dominant wins. No. 18 Colorado took on No. 18 Colorado State, beating the Rams, 32-12, in a statement win for the Buffs. No. 7 Utah traveled to Wyoming and introduced itself as a team ready to take control of the conference, winning its first West match, 65-12. Air Force also took to the pitch this weekend against rival Navy in the battle for the Shea Cup.
No. 14 Colorado State vs. No. 18 Colorado
Colorado State forfeited its first match against Utah, so this was its first match of the year – and the Rams weren’t ready for the well-prepared Colorado side. The Buffaloes scored first on a penalty kick, but let up a try 10 minutes later to the Rams. From there on out, Colorado controlled the match. Buffs’ number eight Christian Wiessing took the ball out of the scrum, ran right through a swarm of green, diving into the try zone with multiple Rams draped across his back. With the addition of Evan Clark’s conversion, that score put Colorado up, 10-7, in the 30th minute.
In the second half, Colorado’s big men – Aaron Beckmann, Gavin Moscone, and Blake Rodgers – each muscled their way through a multitude of Rams for tries. The Buffaloes kept the ball on their side of the pitch for most of the match, and the Rams lacked the size and chemistry to compete with the well-put-together Colorado side. On the defensive side of play, Wiessing was able to hold Colorado State’s star Ben Pinkelman in check, which has proven to be a challenge to many teams in the past.
“Colorado State is a tough side, and I am very proud with how our boys performed,” said first-year Colorado Head Coach Luke Gross. “We have been putting a lot of responsibility on our players, and they are taking it upon themselves to improve. We still have plenty of room to grow, but I like where we are headed.”
The loss puts Colorado State at 0-2 on the season – a surprise considering it only lost one conference match to Air Force last season. Colorado State looked like it hadn’t played a full match together in quite some time, and will need to rally back if they want to compete with a good Air Force team Oct. 17.
Wyoming vs. No. 7 Utah
Utah enters the West after joining D1A in January as an Independent. The Utes were the only Independent team to make the 2015 D1A Playoffs, and made it to the Quarterfinals before losing to eventual Champion Saint Mary’s. The match against Wyoming was their first match as a member of the West, and they did not disappoint, keeping the Cowboys out of the try zone in a 65-12 victory.
Wyoming took advantage of some opportunities afforded by Utah, scoring the first points on two penalty kicks, which put the Cowboys up, 6-0. Utah turned around and scored four tries before Wyoming could put another point on the board, including tries by Kaleb Hogan and Scott Strong. Wyoming scored on two more penalty kicks, and Utah would score another try before entering the half, 29-12.
Utah ran away with the match in the second half, putting up six more tries, which included one more by Strong and one by inside center Taylor Thomas.
Utah will have a week of rest and practice before its next match, which will be Oct. 17 when it heads to Boulder to take on Colorado. The Cowboys will be in action next weekend when they take on Air Force in Colorado Springs.
Air Force vs. Navy
The Zoomies flew out to Annapolis, Md., over the weekend to take on Navy in the first match for the Commander-and-Chief trophy, as well as the battle for the Shea Cup, a trophy contested between the two sides. In the rain and wind from Hurricane Joaquin, the match was full of dropped balls and slick conditions. Navy’s forwards were able to storm past Air Force and the bad weather to shut out the Falcons, 28-0.
Air Force will begin West play on Saturday when it hosts Wyoming.