Aggies overthrow Knights in Men’s D1AA Final

KENNESAW, Ga. – University of California – Davis ended University of Central Florida’s two-year reign atop Men’s Division 1AA Saturday with an 18-15 win at the 2015 USA Rugby College 15s National Championships.

Unlike last year’s clinic against Arizona, Central Florida was matched in all areas of the Final at Fifth Third Bank Stadium at Kennesaw State University. The Knights committed the first offense with a penalty in the 16th minute, leading to Joshua Campos giving the Aggies an early, 3-0, lead, though it was shortly erased with a Central Florida penalty from Grady Barnard three minutes later.

Both forward packs put their weight on the table in the first half, and Davis seemed the worse for wear as the opening frame continued. An attack in the Aggies’ half in the 25th minute spread Davis defenders across the pitch, and Grady Barnard exploited a gap at the 22 to score the match’s first try.

Barnard missed his own conversion for an 8-3 Knights lead, but full back Zachary Houmard put five more points on the board at the end of the half with an individual try that began at the Davis 22. Barnard’s conversion gave the defending champions a 15-3 lead at the break.

Despite not having gone into halftime with a deficit all season, the Aggies began the second half with confidence. Brian Albin did well in the 51st minute to keep Davis’ attack in play by throwing the ball to a teammate as he jumped over the touch line inside Central Florida’s half. Davis opted for a lineout after drawing a penalty just outside the 22, but the Knights stole it.

Central Florida’s clearance of the lineout left something to be desired, however, as full back Auria Torshiza gathered to keep the ball in the Aggies’ hands. Davis kept the ball in the forwards to threaten the try line and Campos took the ball from the breakdown after Ian McCaffrey’s attempted score to reach over the try line.

Minutes after cutting the deficit to 15-8, Davis was given renewed hope with Christian Rossi drawing a yellow card for an illegal tackle. Even without the lock, Central Florida maintained possession in the middle third of the pitch to run the clock without having to defend a man down.

Campos and Christian Lonski combined for a tackle and strip at the Davis 10 in the 66th minute, but the clearance found touch only meters from the turnover. A penalty against Central Florida at its own 10 allowed Campos to bring Davis within four points at 15-11 with 10 minutes to play.

Nathan Oliveira helped force a turnover with a big hit outside the Aggies’ 22, and Davis moved up the pitch until Campos dove over the five-meter line instead of the try line. Rossi returned to the pitch following the change in possession.

Davis continued to apply pressure in the Knights’ half and nearly reached the try line again through the forwards. A few supported charges by the pack in front of the posts gave Campos time to set up his backs, and Oliveira presented the perfect opportunity for a pass and try for Davis’ second lead of the match with three minutes remaining. Campos’ conversion gave the Aggies an important, three-point lead at 18-15.

The Aggies kept hold of the ball following the kickoff, and the Knights’ attempt at poaching the ball in the breakdown drew the referee’s whistle. Davis opted for a scrum to keep the clock moving while play stopped, and another penalty against Central Florida in the set piece ended the team’s hopes for a three-peat.

With his impactful performance on both sides of the ball and crucial try in the waning moments of the D1AA National Championship, Oliveira was named Most Valuable Player.

Central Florida | v UC Davis

1. John Sennet

2. Joshua Massanova

3. Tyler Turner

4. Christopher Dayao

5. Christian Rossi

6. James Boozer

7. Conor Newton

8. Scott Watters

9. Tristan Dignan

10. Grady Barnard

11. Robert Strange

12. Daniel Irion

13. Nicholas Beauchamp

14. Calvin Turner

15. Zachary Houmard

Central Florida | Reserves

16. Reginald Exalan

17. Kyle Maynard

18. Erik Sasiadek

19. Wolfgang Lynn

20. Kenenth Appel

21. Devyn Dodge

22. Robert Dorzback

23. Jeff Colton

UC Davis | v Central Florida

1. Hayden Meyers

2. Jacob Phan

3. Jerrett Evans

4. Tushar Zalpuri

5. Ilaitia Namatesere

6. Hunter Kepon

7. Jacob Gumina

8. Daniel Benjamin

9. Joshua Campos

10. Joshua Farnsworth

11. Brian Albin

12. Nathan Oliveira

13. Yutaro Kobayashi

14. Darryl Woods

15. Auria Torshizi

UC Davis | Reserves

16. Ian McCaffrey

17. Harrison Morrow

18. Nick Klansko

19. Christian Lonsky

20. Damon Karson

21. Joe Vasilief

22. Ryan Morgan

23. Ryan Calbreath