During a D1-A bye week, Kutztown University took on men's club Schuylkill River, defeating the playoff-bound club 26-22.
Schuylkill River fielded three Kutztown alumni in their lineup: hooker Kyle Travelet, lock Steffan Ruff, and center Josh Keys.
With an experienced backline and big, physical forward pack, Schuylkill provided exactly the kind of test Kutztown needed going into the meat of their college season.
Kutztown opened up with a try in the first five minutes when Golden Bear captain Jamie Gregory fought his way through a stiff River goalline defense. The conversion was missed and Kutztown was up 5-0. Both sides worked their way into the other's territory over the next 20 minutes, but could not score. Schuylkill River made it to the Kutztown tryline three times, but were stopped just short each time.
The game was being fought in the trenches as the two forward packs played intense, physical rugby. The backlines on both sides were finding gaps and the River was sending big, determined backs into space, only to be brought down by several outstanding Kutztown cover tackles. At 20 minutes, Kutztown lock Mike Lawrenson ran in a try from fifteen meters out to give his side a 10-0 lead.
Schuylkill River came roaring back and put KU under pressure for a good 15 minutes. Finally they scored, with former Bear Kyle Travelet ran in near the posts to make it 10-5. Schuylkill kept up the pressure and punished a KU penalty to make it 10-8.
Near the conclusion of the first half, Kutztown's Niku Kruger slotted a penalty kick and the first 40 minutes came to a close with Kutztown holding on to a slim 13-8 lead.
The second half saw each side pick up the pace and the physicality. Both sides working diligently to try and take command of the contest, and ultimately Kutztown extended their lead. Flanker, Matt Frederick rambled thirty yards to score in the corner to make it 18-8 - still no conversions. River worked their way down the field and scored on another penalty kick; 18-11.
An then the momentum of the game appeared to swing in Schuylkill's favor when they score with ten minutes to go to lead for the first time, 19-18.
Kutztown ran hard to chase the restart, and Mike Lawrenson was there to go up and disrupt River's ball. After several rucks, Schuylkill River was penalties, and Tim Acker slotted the penalty to give the Bears a 21-19 lead.
River rebounded and got a penalty of their own to lead 22-21. With four minutes to go, the Bears kicked off and forced Schuylkill into touch. Now with the ball, KU worked their way into Schuylkill River territory, working the ball through the hands and the pounding it up in the forwards.
With the River forwards locked in the ruck, scrumhalf Andrew Abt swung a pass to wing Bruce Dolan, who raced into the corner, diving to make the touchdown.
That won the game.
Kutztown now looks ahead to a DI-A matchup with Penn State. Schuylkill River looks ahead to a friendly with defending DII National Champs Rocky Gorge Saturday, and the national Round of 32 game April 27.