Wisconsin punched a return ticket to the DII final with a 35-12 defeat of Santa Rosa Saturday at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo. The game could have gone either way for the first 40, but tipped in Wisconsin's favor in the second half.
Wisconsin brought the wood to begin the game. With, ‘Unfinished Biz’ scrawled on their supporters’ t-shirts, Wisconsin needed no motivation. On his first carry and in the game’s opening seconds, Wisconsin’s right wing lowered his shoulder and plowed over his Santa Rosa counterpart, knocking him out cold. The Santa Rosa player faltered when he tried to walk away and had to be subbed off.
That hit turned out to be an indication of what the rest of the first half would be like. Most of the rugby in the opening 30 minutes was played between the 22-meter lines and the try lines, with both team’s defending their goal line for impressively long periods of time.
Wisconsin drew first blood on a point-blank forwards movement early, and Santa Rosa responded by doing the same thing, but not before being held up twice and turned away numerous times by Wisconsin’s defense.
Santa Rosa then spent the next several minutes with its heels to the goal line, holding Wisconsin up once and repelling more lunges toward pay dirt. Finally, off of a maul following a lineout, Wisconsin No. 8 Andrew Hanske was able to dot down. Converted, the try put Wisconsin up 14-7, which is how the half would end.
A flurry of penalties and tries saw Wisconsin run away with the game in the second half. Santa Rosa did manage a try, which came off a big individual effort from No. 8.
Wisconsin's defense was tested until the end, but it didn't fold, and kept turning the ball over and into offensive opportunities.
"Our boys stood strong together. Everywhere we went on the field we took somebody with us," said Wisconsin No. 10 Miles Jobke. "We had a couple of goal line stands and it took a lot of out of Santa Rosa. We took strong and the points just came.
"It's a good testament to our teamwork and the way we stood strong the entire way through. We played a complete 80 minutes of defense there."