The East Coast Collegiate Rugby Conference began play this weekend with four games on the slate.
American International College (AIC) opened at home Friday night with a 25-20 defeat of Albany. The game was tied 20-20 near the death, with both teams having banked three tries, a penalty and a conversion early on. Prop Jamal Hadley broke the stalemate with his second try of the game on the final play, giving the Yellow Jackets the win.
There was second barn-burner on Saturday, as Middlebury nudged past UMass 33-31. Middlebury led most of the first half and took a 26-12 lead early on in the second, but the Minutemen clawed back and took a 31-26 lead with about 15 minutes to play.
With about five minutes left on the clock, Middlebury prop Mike Wysota then pounded in a short-range try (converted) following several phases inside UMass’s 22 to take a 33-31 lead. UMass kept pressuring and earned a shot at goal, but the would-be game winner didn’t make it through the uprights.
Fullback Allan Stafford led Middlebury in tries on the day, racing in three.
“He’s just a remarkable athlete,” said Middlebury assistant coach Ben Wells of Stafford. “He glides when he runs, and he had a couple of beautiful tries off of set pieces…He’s a very strong runner but very smooth. Two of the three (tries) were right under the posts.”
Also winning on Saturday was Boston College, who drilled UConn 54-8. The Eagles lost 10 starters from last season, including their would-be starting flyhalf to a torn ACL suffered this summer, so the lopsided win is welcomed.
Kyle Lacy is filling in at No. 10 and did well enough Saturday to assist in the win.
“He was our inside center last year, and we’ve moved him over to 10,” said BC coach Jeff Monfett. “He did good. Still struggled at times to make the decision on getting the ball out, but when we played to the structure and the system he played well.”
Standing out for the Eagles were the Bronzo cousins, center Allan and wing John.
“They really, really played well today,” said Monfett of the cousins, “making line breaks and that really got us going.”
Allan played rugby in high school, and he recruited his cousin John from the BC football team. The former wide receiver scored three tries against UConn.
“He was put away well, but he’s fast,” said Monfett of John. “He’s got great straight speed, and he’s slowly learning the game, but he’s able to use his speed to his advantage and that was really the difference for him out there today.”
Defending East Coast champ Northeastern also scored a convincing win Saturday, beating Southern Connecticut 52-10.