Big Scores in Gateway Conference
Big Scores in Gateway Conference
Principia laid down a bit of a marker over the weekend, but there's more doing on among Gateway Conference teams than just that.
The Principia Thunder Chickens, ranked #15 last week by GRR (and likely a little bit higher this week) defeated #4-ranked Northern Iowa by the score of 72-20. It was perhaps a bit of a surprise for a UNI side in a non-conference game, but surprise or not, Principia was ready for them. UNI scrummed well and scored points, for sure, but Principia's overall pace was too much for Northern Iowa.
The Thunder Chickens were strong in the lineout and stole ball there. Their defensive pressure, assisted by their team speed, was very good and forced UNI into mistakes.
Perhaps it was a wakeup call for UNI, but it was an alarm bell from Principia. Their counter-attack game was very dangerous and with turnover ball they are ridiculously dangerous.
Head Coach Ward Patterson was circumspect in his assessment.
"I think we are building a good team," he said, "but we have work to do."
It was big score vs low score in the conference, with two games being shutouts and two losing teams managing just the one try.
St. Louis University beat Maryville 99-0 and Central Missouri beat John Brown 34-0.
"I think right now the entire team is firing on all cylinders," said Central Missouri Head Coach Bo Varvil. "We are still working out positions for some as we learn strengths and weaknesses, and we are playing to those strengths."
And some players are showing they have talent. This week sophomore scrumhalf Bryce Palmer was that guy, controlling the tempo of the match and blossoming in the job.
"He has done a fantastic job of reading the defense and adjusting the offense to best exploit the opponents," added Varvil.
Center Walter Manuleleua has played scrumhalf and flyhalf and now at inside center he is an effective playmaker in the middle of the backline. He helps put teammates into position to score and he was a scoring threat himself. Up front flankers Charlie Mays and DeJuan Scott are both relatively new to the sport but have realized that if they work hard on defense and rattle some teeth they can set the tone for the team.
"They are also both among the most reliable players we have, be it showing up to practice, carrying the ball, or setting up on defense; they are where they are supposed to be and doing a great job there."
Allowing points but still winning were Washington University (52-5 over Southern Illinois) and Southern Nazarene (50-7 over Pitt State), so both teams allowed only one try apiece.
"We really wanted to experiment by putting some players in new positions and also getting some of our newest players some match experience," said WashU Head Coach Bryce Krug. "It’s going to be really important for us to have as much depth and a variety of options as we finish out our conference schedule and head into the playoffs. SIU is a physical side and they came to play."
The score was actually tied 5-5 at 32 minutes, so it wasn't until the second Owen Reinhardt scored that Washington took the lead for good.
Scrumhalf Liam Mulkerin was the player of the game, seeing the game nicely and making good decisions. Scott Lewis, Sandro Celibidachi, and Reinhardt all scored two tries, and Reinhardt was also active in the breakdown and around the field.
"I’ve been really impressed with the contributions our rookies are making, too," added Krug. "Alex Porras started his second match at flanker, and having him available as a jumper has dramatically improved our lineouts. John Haase good his first start as lock this week. Marcus Negron and Lance Berryman have seen quite a bit of playing time on the wing. Adam Zwanstra and Liam Fleck are versatile subs. There are lots of other new guys to mention, but the big takeaway for me is they are all excited to learn the game and willing to do the work to get better. That attitude fits really well with the culture that our veterans have developed with the team and that makes it a lot of fun to coach."
For SNU, they put Pitt State under all sorts of pressure early on but somehow couldn't quite get it over. Little frantic errors cost them. Finally after all that pressure they settled for a penalty goal and somehow that seemed to relax the Crimson Storm players. They started to keep better control of the ball and scored a try. Pitt State replied right after and it was 10-7 until late in the first half. After that SNU started to pull away.
So with all of that, Washington and SNU are both 3-0. Central Missouri sits at 2-0 and Principia lurks at 1-0. We won't see Principia in action next week in-conference as they face the Arkansas State University U20s. But the big game will be Southern Nazarene hosting Central Missouri.
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