San Diego, UCSB and Claremont Colleges picked up wins in the third week of Pacific Mountain West play Saturday.
UCSB 21-14 SDSU
UCSB did so in the conference’s marquee game, beating San Diego State 21-14. Both entered the match 1-0 and as likely favorites to win the conference title.
The 37 minutes saw no scores, as both teams struggled to gain a significant advantage. In the 38th minute, Gaucho No. 8 Ryan Cook barged into SDSU’s try line to break the stalemate.
“It seemed like Sand Diego State had the run of play,” said UCSB coach Kevin Battle. “We were fortunate our forwards kind of started to getting the edge.”
UCSB carried a 7-0 lead into halftime, and extended it to 14-0 directly after intermission, when outside center Johnny Prickett finished off a nice backline move with a try.
The Gauchos then pushed their lead 21 with a third converted try, this one scored by wing Daniel Cloyd in the 60th minute.
San Diego State made the game interesting with a pair of tries in the final 10 minutes.
“Everything was going our way, momentum was going our way, and I think we got ahead of ourselves a little too much and let off the gas,” said Battle. “All of a sudden it’s a 21-14 game and we’re kicking off to them.”
The Gauchos turned the Aztecs over on the restart and cleared it to touch to seal the biggest win of the early Pacific Mountain West season.
“Obviously, every game is an important game, but this is one we certainly had our eye on,” said Battle.
“San Diego State just dropping down, we know that they have a great program, we know they have a great coaching staff and they have some really great athletes as well, so we knew we were going to have to be at our best in order to win. We weren’t quite there today, but we managed to pull out a victory, so we’re certainly happy with that.”
CLAREMONT 40-23 LOYOLA MARYMOUNT
After a disappointing conference-opening loss to USD, Claremont rebounded with a three-score win over Loyola Marymout.
Claremont took control in the first half, leveraging its superior size against the much smaller Lions.
“Fist half we completely controlled it,” said Claremont coach Jeremy Ognall. “Most phases of the game our continuity was better, first-up defense, one-on-one tackles were better, and we didn’t give them much of an opportunity to create phase ball.”
The Dragons led 28-11 at halftime, but conceded many more penalties in the second half, giving Loyola a chance pull back within striking distance.
“We didn’t do a good job of adjusting to (the sir’s) calls. So that put us on the back foot, and they punched in a couple of tries to make it competitive,” said Ognall, “but in the last 15 minutes of the game we scored two more tries to put a seal on it. I’d say we played about 55 minutes of good rugby out of the 80.”
SAN DIEGO 63-45 USC
San Diego poured 50 points on Claremont Jan. 28, so the Toreros’ output of 63 points Saturday against USC didn’t come as a surprise. However, conceding 45 points to a Trojan team that averaged less than 13 in its first two games, did.
“Yeah, it was sort of disappointing. We didn’t play to our potential today, bottom line, but it was a really short field, so it sort of made for a weird dynamic to the game,” USD coach Wilson said.
Also factoring into the equation was a rash of injuries suffered by USD in the Claremont win. 7 Toreros left the game with injuries, and six were unavailable for the USC match. Reaching 2-0 in league play hasn’t come without a price for USD.
“We’ve had to move a lot of kids around into some positions that maybe aren’t their natural place on the field, so we’re adjusting,” said Wilson. “And along with that comes some lapses in our judgment.
“They played the ball real fast, and they had some players we didn’t come up in front of and had some players that made us pay. Hats off to them. They played well.”
Every team gets a bye week in the PMW, as much of the American rugby community fixates its attention on USA Sevens in Las Vegas.