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Two Close Games help D1 Elite Shine

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Two Close Games help D1 Elite Shine

Life secures a huge victory.

It was a weekend of very close games in D1 Elite, which is good news for the league.


Central Washington held off BYU 22-20 to improve to 3-4 in D1 Elite competition.

BYU has had a tough time in the move up to D1 Elite, but it was a move that had to happen, and this result, on the road, was a good one for the Cougars. Certainly BYU has learned a bit about being tenacious and physical on defense, as well as managing the kicking game.

The result was a game in which No one scored for over 18 minutes. Finally off a scrum inside the CWU half, BYU attacked down the right side. They consolidated from there, probed left, used the forwards, and finally went over with a nice short ball off the backline.

CWU responded almost immediately. A break through the outside backs on the right side almost produced a try from 50 meters out. To their credit, the BYU cover defense just barely did the job. But the Cougars misfired on their lineout and the Wildcats grabbed the loose ball and went over.

So now BYU led 7-5 and they were able to camp out in the CWU zone after a penalty set up a lineout. Some good, hard running in traffic set up a chance out wide, and while the Cougars didn't score, they had a penalty advantage and finally were able punch it over.

CWU were on their heels as halftime approached, and a BYU penalty made it 15-5.

Another long break from the Wildcats almost produced a long-range score. Once again BYU hung tough but this time they infringed and from a penalty-lineout-maul, CWU put it over to end the half 15-10.

But BYU started well in the second half and got another try over to lead 20-10. A long period of pressure in reply led to Central Washington scoring in the corner to make it 20-15 with 30 minutes left,

That half hour was on a knife edge. Penalties started to creep into BYU's game and it cost them. A penalty set up a lineout-and-maul close to the BYU line, and when they infringed on that maul they were under a warning.

Central opted to tap then and set up a maul closer to the posts. BYU stole the ball, but they did it illegally, and potentially collapsed the maul, too. The result was a penalty try (which, crucially, awards the conversion as well) and CWU had a 22-20 lead.

Both sides had scoring opportunities—BYU was a good five minutes inside the Central 22 but couldn't get anything from it. CWU somehow held on 22-20.

Life University defeats Lindenwood 

Life scored early off a short-yardage play from AJ Haughey and converted nicely by Nina Mason. Lindenwood responded with an 80-meter try capped off by wing Madison Jersey. 

Midway through the first half Lindenwood looked to run out of their own 22 off a scrum. But Sorensen nominee Matilda Kocaj laid in a tackle on Sorensen nominee Amy Brice, jarred the ball loose for Harlie Kallichuk to swoop in and take.

With Mason's second conversion, Kallichuk's conversion made it 14-5.

Lindenwod responded almost immediately with a storming run from Sorensen nominee Freda Tafuna, who bumped off a couple of tacklers and just ran in. Sophie O'Cain's conversion made it 14-12 for Life University with about 11 minutes left in the first half.

The Running Eagles pressured and in fact Mason even attempted a drop goal when Life wasn't getting anywhere, but it drifted just wide. Instead Lindenwood would have the final say of the half. A miscue on a Life lineout started it all and an obstruction call on a kick-chase set up Brice for a slicing run down to the line (where Kocaj caught her). 

The forwards surged in and Tafuna went over for her second. O'Cain kicked the conversion and Lindenwood had their first lead of the game 19-14.

The scoring slowed down considerably as the night rolled on. Finally, though, about midway through the second half Life pressured with Tafuna off with a yellow card. They got close to the line and finally sent it wide to Kocaj, who was over. Mason converted and it was 21-19 for Life.

Life's defense was very good and they held Lindenwood in check. With time up Mason slotted a really well-taken kick to ice it 24-19.

Mason's accurate goalkicking was a huge factor in this game, as was the defense of Kocaj.

With one more week of action left, it's pretty clear who the top four teams are. But it's also gratifying for the league to a) see Lindenwood upended and b) see two intensely close games in this penultimate regular-season weekend.

D1 Elite W L T PF PA PD BT BL Pts
Lindenwood 6 1 0 313 62 251 6 1 31
Life 6 1 0 379 64 315 6 0 30
Central Washington 3 4 0 155 176 -21 2 0 14
BYU 2 5 0 150 216 -66 2 1 11
Penn State 0 2 0 16 143 -127 0 0 0
Grand Canyon 0 4 0 13 289 -276 0 0 0