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Overtime, Comebacks Highlight Men DII QFs

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Overtime, Comebacks Highlight Men DII QFs

Norwich celebrates its overtime win. Scott Ligon photo.

Four teams are left in the Men's DII playoffs after some thrillers on Sunday in the quarterfinals.

Overtime

Norwich needed overtime to defeat Furman 60-41 in a wild one. Furman led 41-24 with 15 minutes left in the second half. But  

But in those final 15 minutes the Cadets scored three tries, including a long series of phases from a lineout, maul, and several pick-and-goes that needed Jeffrey Minicucci to convert on to tie the game 41-41.

Shaken by the comeback, Furman had no answer in overtime as Norwich scored three tries to win 60-41.

That wasn't the only nailbiter on the day.

Rolla Comeback

Gateway Conference champion Missouri S&T edged Great Midwest champion Illinois State 13-10. In an intense, physical game, ISU led 5-0 at halftime thanks to a try from prop Eric Jones in the first four minutes. Then in the first minute of the second half, Illinois State got an attacking scrum, and elusive scrumhalf Demond Shavers scampered over and it was 10-0.

Down 10-0, S&T decided to keep the ball in the forwards and use their pack to shove ISU back. It worked.

"We started pounding it with our forwards, got a couple of penalties, and started to get momentum," said prop Austin McMillen. Lock Dylan Moorman slotted a penalty at 46 minutes and then 18 minutes later he kicked another to make it 10-6.

Then, with ten minutes to go, S&T was back threatening. 

"We were just pounding it with our forwards, we ran a crash, and then had some space and sent it out to the edge and I ran it right in," said McMillen. With the prop's try and Moorman's conversion made it 13-10.

There was still time for ISU to come back, but S&T closed it out.

"We just tried to control the ball as well as we could," said McMillen. S&T closed it out 13-10.

Warhawks Back

Wisconsin-Whitewater returns to the final four after a 31-24 defeat of Memphis. The game wasn't back-and-forth. Whitewater ran out to a 21-5 lead and while Memphis didn't fade it was 28-12 early in the second half.

Lock Scott Derbes got the early try for Whitewater and while Memphis replied, Whitewater pressure led to a penalty try and a 14-5 lead. Then Cameron Treuthardt raced over and it was 21-5. 

Slowly Memphis started to creep back and scored two tries in the second half, but Whitewater held on 31-24. The Warhawks got a second-half try from No.8  Nick Hammel, and flyhalf Joshua Wetherall was money all day, converting all four Whitewater tries and adding a crucial penalty goal to keep the cushion.

The Warhawks were national runners-up last year after winning the national title twice in a row. This year, Whitewater lost to Illinois State in the Great Midwest Conference final, and seemed more vulnerable. That may have been the case—Whitewater just got by Vermont in the Round of 16 19-17—but they did enough.

Royals Roll

The only game that wasn't close was Queens University Charlotte over UMass-Lowell 66-12. And even then, it didn't seem like it was a runaway.

"It was interesting," said Queens Head Coach Frank McKinney. "My players said that Lowell was a lot better than the score. They had multiple breaks. Their scrums were good. We usually do well at defending lineouts but we couldn't do anything to their lineouts. They are a good, physical team."

But in the end the difference was what you do with your chances. Queens finished their line breaks, while the Royals' cover defense was usually good enough to just stop Lowell from getting to the tryline.

"We had a couple of five- to ten-minute periods where we got some tries, and that was kind of the difference," said McKinney. Blindside flanker Benjie Hund was monstrous on the day, covering the field well and making tackles and hitting rucks.

Flyhalf Thomas Keay scored three tries for the Royals, Hund had one, and center Stanford Johnson scored two.

So that sets up the semis in two weeks:

Missouri S&T vs Wisconsin-Whitewater

Queens University Charlottes vs Norwich University