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Penn State Wins High-Scoring VC QF Over Army

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Penn State Wins High-Scoring VC QF Over Army

New flanker and old flanker, Joey Freeman at right and Malcolm May at left, part of a solid Penn State back row. Colleen McCloskey photo.

Penn State and Army combined for 81 points in Saturday’s Varsity Cup Quarterfinal, and it was the Penn State Nittany Lions that emerged winners in something of a barnburner, 47-34.

Penn State got some big runs from flanker Malcolm May and two first-half tries from center Joe Kelly to run out to a 34-10 lead. Army didn’t wilt, and instead mounted a comeback that got the Black Knights within a single score at 39-34 with ten minutes remaining. But a Jimmy Ronan penalty and one final try put the game away for Penn State.’Mike Eife, Tyler May, Malcolm May, and Rob Irimescu, all scored for Penn State. Ryan McNulty got three.

Head Coach James Willocks praised the effort and play of West Point, and said it was an honor to host them. But his Penn State team was pretty honorable, too.

“We had a 45-player effort to win this game,” said Willocks. “We had some good performances, but what really mattered was that all of the players have bought in and have been working enormously hard. The goal was to get ourselves into these sorts of games. The guys have done everything I’ve asked of them.”

Pressed to talk about standouts, Willocks praised Kelly and Selby Niumataiwalu for their work in the centers. They were constantly testing the Army defense and scored or set up numerous tries. Niumataiwalu’s variety of game, with his passing and his kicking, provided plenty of attacking opportunities for others.

Manwhile some of the younger players such as flanker Joey Freeman and hooker Jordan Crofts stepped up. However, Willocks said what made it all happen was the leadership of the senior players - May, Eife, and prop Brian McKellar, who is back from injury and setting the tone up front.

Now Penn State looks to play at Cal in the semifinals.