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Varsity Teams Lead Way as NCR DII Men Down to Four

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Varsity Teams Lead Way as NCR DII Men Down to Four

Norwich wins a lineout against IUP in the Round of 16 on Friday. Alex Goff photo.

We're down to four in the NCR Men's DII College championship and three of the four are varsity programs.

It was almost four, with Marian leading by a slim margin before Northern Iowa scored late to win it.

Men D2 College Rankings 2021 Week 11

Northern Iowa

Northern Iowa's potent offense saw them through as the only club team in the final four. UNI ran out to a 27-10 lead. Things got worse for Marian as they received a red card and were shorthanded for the second half of the game. Still the Knights stormed back to lead 33-32 late.

"It was one of the hardest-hitting games I think I’ve ever played," said Northern Iowa's Kabel Boleyn. "Our wings balled out today for sure, making crazy runs and always being in support. They played a big role today."

Up by a try UNI were burned by an interception which gave Marian the lead. Boleyn blamed that on a bad pass that he made. But despite having only eight minutes to fix things, "not a single head dropped on our side of the pitch," said Boleyn. "It was quite amazing to see really. We responded tremendously, moved the ball down the field quickly and scored a try with four minutes to go."

Right after the restart, Marian was penalized in the scrum and UNI was able to run out the clock to win 37-33.

 

Adrian College

In their opening season, Adrian made it to the national semifinal by beating Illinois State 55-17. Illinois State, which is coached by the players, had done brilliantly to make the quarterfinals as well as capture the Great Midwest title, but Adrian has been imposing all season, despite the fact that from October 3 through the end of October the Bulldogs had just one game, and that against a men's club, thanks to in-conference cancelations.

ISU hung tough early and it was 12-10 Adrian at halftime thanks to tries from Nicholas Andiarena and Aleki Sanita Tautua'a. But the second half belonged to the Bulldogs as Michael Pakofe, Michael Karns, and Sione Mamata scored tries. Sam Williams and Petelo Vatuvei added two each in the second period.

Norwich

GRR's #1 team Norwich made it the the final weekend in Houston by beating Georgetown 30-19.

Wing Brantley Ledbetter scored three tries to lead the Cadets while senior Travis Bartniski and captain Leo Clayburgh also touched down. Clayburgh added five more points with the boot.

Georgetown took an early 7-0 lead but Norwich replied with Ledbetter's score and a Clayburgh conversions. The teams battled on through the first half deadlocked until the 29th minute when Bartniski put the Cadets ahead. Georgetown replied to lead 14-12, but just before halftime Clayburgh put his side ahead 17-14. He extended that leas just after halftime with a penalty goal and while Georgetown scored a try Norwich held onto a slim 20-19 lead.

But Norwich has shown itself able to finish strong and they did so again with Ledbetter torching the Hoyas for two tries in the final 15 minutes.

This is Norwich's fourth national semifinal appearance as they made it in 2016, 2017, and 2019, but they have never won a semifinal

Thomas More

The Saints of Thomas More continued to dominate its opposition, although they suffered the same problems as Adrian with three straight cancelations in October. Including their MCRC playoff final, their postseason performances have seen three straight 30-plus victories. Friday's 55-20 victory over Marquette was followed up with a 59-0 shutout of Minnesota-Duluth. 

With captain and loosehead prop Hudson Montgomery, No. 8 Tomas Casares, flanker Lorenzo Lelli, and flyhalf Matias Caramuti working the phases and controlling possession, shutting out Duluth at this stage is no mean feat and it's the Thomas More defense that will be something to see at Houston.

"We played as a team and followed our game plan," said Thomas More Head Coach John Fox. "Our defense and ball control was key. Our attack controlled the pace of the game. Both teams we played were scrappy and hit hard on offense and tackled hard on defense. They should be commended for their success this season.

"We're on cloud nine and proud of my scholar athletes. They set their legacy in motion at the beginning of the season to make a difference on and off the field for the Saints Rugby Program and so far have succeeded. We are excited to get to Houston!"