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It's Iowa Central And Western Michigan In DIAA Final

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It's Iowa Central And Western Michigan In DIAA Final

Roger Mazzarella photo.

Western Michigan will play Iowa Central Community College in the fall final of the Men's DIAA College rugby playoffs after both won games Sunday.

Iowa Central, which started the season as a DII team and was moved up to DIAA despite their protests because of the Tritons' strength of schedule, have made lemonade out those lemons with an impressive run this weekend.

After coming back to beat Virginia Tech in the last minute on Saturday, the Tritons beat defending fall champs Bowling Green 25-5 on Sunday. 

 

It's been a meteoric rise for Iowa Central, which made the DII final four last fall, but didn't make the championship game.

 

 

Meanwhile, there's been a sense of unfinished business within the Western Michigan team for some time. WMU has logged some impressive conference records, only to get undercut by Bowling Green in the MAC conference final. 

This year, too, WMU lost on the last-second kick to BGSU in the MAC final, but the Broncos' run through the playoffs was different, beating Tennessee 38-22 on Saturday, and St. Joseph's 42-19 on Sunday.

"They are a great team, we wish them well," said St. Joe's Head Coach Dan Yarusso.

"The kids played well," said WMU Head Coach Mark Allen in his usual understated way. "We know St. Joe's style of play, which is completely different from Tennessee's. But the kids played really good defense."

With starting prop Ivan Delgado out injured—a big blow—and with a couple of other injuries in there, WMU was up against it.

"We made the right adjustments," said Allen. "Being in such a tough conference has helped us."

Sean Akins was immense on Sunday. The football convert was a powerful physical presence at flanker. Hooker Manny Bravo was key up front, while No. 8 Joey Backe, who has been superb all season, ramped it up a little higher. Center Kyle Williams added a couple of tries, and Western Michigan is now, finally, in that final.

"Well, we're happy to be there," said Allen. "But we're not done yet."

In other action, Tennessee pulled out a very strong performance to win the consolation game over NC State 48-24. Kennesaw State wasn't as fortunate. Slammed with injuries, KSU pitched up but was beaten by a strong Virginia Tech 36-15.

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