Kutztown advances to Cup Quarterfinals at Collegiate Rugby Championship

Kutztown advances to Cup Quarterfinals at Collegiate Rugby Championship

CHESTER, Pa. — A man simply identified as Dan appeared on the jumbotron Saturday at Talen Energy Stadium. He was the participant, or better yet, the victim, of a halftime giveaway game, a harmless, usually forgettable PR stunt. But Dan’s experience offered more.
 
The game was “The good, the bad and the ugly.” Dan’s simple objective was to name five teams participating in this weekend’s Collegiate Rugby Championships. He did and had the choice of three prize packs — one good, one bad and one ugly. He chose prize pack C, which ended up being the bad. He received a black trash bag and had to collect garbage from those sitting nearby. Sorry, Dan.
 
The jumbotron gig mimicked the rugby witnessed during Saturday’s opening round of pool play. The teams that were supposed to be good were, in fact, good. Local schools’ failure to advance to the Cup quarterfinals constituted the bad. And some of the lopsided scores were downright ugly. 
 
Of the 24 teams competing in the CRC, five hail from the region: Temple, Saint Joseph’s, Penn State, University of Delaware and Kutztown. Only Kutztown advanced to the Cup quarterfinals, explained below.
 
Teams are split into six four-team pools, playing each team in their pool once in a 7-on-7 match with seven-minute halves. In such short contests, the importance of a single score and the damage of a costly mistake are magnified. 
 
Winners are awarded three points while losers get one. A draw results in two points for each team.
 
Pool winners, along with the two top-scoring second place teams, advance to the Cup quarterfinals, the most desirable landing spot out of the tournaments happening Sunday. The next best eight teams place in the Plate quarterfinals, while the bottom eight find themselves in the Bowl quarterfinals. Everyone’s a winner, except not really.
 
The good
Kutztown looked like it’d be the one local school to advance to the Cup quarters. In four years of CRC participation, it's gone to the finals twice. Based on the product it put on display in Pool F, it appeared ready to get over the hump this year. 

The Golden Bears used some shifty jukes to make South Carolina look silly in Game 1, walking away with a 36-0 win. Against Tennessee, it wouldn’t be a surprise if some Volunteers left with broken ankles. Dmontae Noble and Aaron Gray danced around the opponent. Indiana completely reversed the narrative, though, when it handled Kutztown, 29-19, in the evening’s penultimate battle. 

The loss left the Golden Bears in second place with just seven points, but thanks to a massive point differential of 75, it was enough to qualify for the Cup quarters as the final seed.
 
Cal, the other Golden Bears, has won this tournament four years in a row. It didn’t land the toughest draw and coasted through Pool E. In a morning bout with Clemson, the Golden Bears allowed a couple of early tries but emerged smoothly 33-12. 

Penn State appeared to pose a challenge at times but faded as well. When Cal would reverse field, the last man had enough speed to break free and sprint for a try. But when Penn State tried to swing it, it seemed as if a wall of Cal defenders met them every time. The result was a Cal win, 28-19. And as for Delaware, it didn’t even look like they belonged on the same field as Cal, who wiped out the Hens, 54-0.
 
The bad
St. Joe’s fared decently, but after missing the Cup quarters by just one point last year, it surely would have liked to have finished better than third in Group C. The Hawks took down Navy in their early match. They had some bright moments against Army, including a Noah Niumataiwalu rampage that took a hoard of Black Knights to take down and that eventually turned into a try a few tosses later. But St. Joe’s is a program on the rise and has a ways to go before reaching the top. As such, both losses to Army and Lindenwood came by double digits.
 
Penn State had respectable results as well. The Nittany Lions routed Delaware 31-0, to start. The 28-19 loss to Cal was about as good as a team can hope for against a powerhouse of Cal's magnitude. And in the evening’s last match against Clemson, the Nittany Lions impressed with a 31-7 win. Unfortunately for them, their seven points weren’t enough to place them in the Cup quarters. It’ll be the Plate for them.
 
The ugly
Those outside of Temple’s camp saw a tough weekend coming for the Owls. The team’s been plagued by injuries this year. Still, it would’ve been tough to predict things going as poorly as they did. 

Temple finished the day without notching a single point while allowing 94. By the end of their third and final defeat, the disappointment showed. Distraught players fell to their knees and held their arms above their head in disbelief as Boston College, a team that lost its first two outings of the day, scored another easy try to bring it to 24-0. Fortunately for the Owls, the clock ran dry soon thereafter to put them out of their misery.
 
Some of Delaware’s experience was just as hard to watch. There was the shutout at the hands of Penn State. It fell narrowly to Clemson, 20-12. But the last bout with Cal was cringeworthy, and not just because one attempt to tackle a Golden Bear ended up pulling down his shorts to briefly expose his rear end. Cal was faster and more fluid. It scored at will. The game ended at 54-0. 
 
But Temple and Delaware weren’t the only schools to contribute to the flood of blowouts. A team was shut out 10 times Saturday. Tennessee supplied two of them, with Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and South Carolina each chipping in an empty effort as well. These teams did well to get to this point, but the results Saturday just go to show the gap between the good and the great. 
 
Bonus points
• The Army-Navy football game is one of the more celebrated collegiate sporting events every year, so it was fun to see the two service academies square off in Pool C. Midshipman Torran Raby inflicted an early stiff arm that got a good reaction from the crowd. The match stayed within one-possession for its entirety. But a try from the speedy Black Knight Harrison Farrell with a little more than a minute to play sealed the deal for the Black Knights, whose postgame jubilation was the most excitement displayed all day. The rivalry is real between the two institutions.

 
• Life University’s captain is named Harley Davidson. Really.
 
• St. Mary’s owns historic success, with three national titles in 15-on-15 play. Dartmouth has reached the CRC quarters every year but one since the event began eight years ago. When the two met in the final game of Pool A, each with six points, a close contest was brewing — until the second half happened. The Gaels took a 7-7 tie at the midway point and used bad Big Green turnovers to turn it into a 26-7 drubbing. 
 
• Life and Arkansas State, both teams expected to contend for the championship, went into its final Pool B match with two wins each. Both teams scored within the first few seconds of their initial possession. One Red Bull was handed a red card in the final minute as things got heated. Life took advantage of the man-up situation and tied the match at 19, where it would end in a tie. 
 
• Dan came back on the jumbotron later, and it was revealed he also got some food vouchers in addition to his trash bag. Congrats, Dan.

Drexel's Chris Crawford soaks up tradition at U.S. Open

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Drexel's Chris Crawford soaks up tradition at U.S. Open

ERIN, Wis. — The U.S. Open is all about tradition. This week is the 117th playing of golf's national championship and this event more than most celebrates those golfers who play the game as amateurs. 

Soon-to-be Drexel graduate Chris Crawford has been soaking up all the traditions this week at Erin Hills. Playing in his second U.S. Open after qualifying through both local and sectional competition for the second straight year, an extremely difficult feat, the 23-year-old fifth-year senior enjoyed the amateur dinner put on by the tournament organizers with the USGA. Crawford and his fellow amateurs, a stout list including Texas' Scottie Scheffler, who shot 3-under Thursday to seize the early low amateur lead, were celebrated the entire evening — one of Crawford's early highlights in a long week here in Wisconsin. 

Crawford produced a 3-over par 75 Thursday during the first round to tie for 102nd out of a field of 156 players.

"I played OK (Thursday)," Crawford said. "I'm going to take more positives than negatives out of the round. I played really well for 14 holes and just had a few bad swings on the other four holes."

Indeed, Thursday morning started nervously for the former Drexel golf standout. On the opening par-5 first hole, he snap-hooked his drive into the weeds out of bounds to the left, resulting in a double bogey. Three holes later, he chipped one shot over the back of the fourth green and took another double-bogey, placing him 4-over through four holes. 

Although bogeys might keep many of us alive in our weekend matches, it doesn't cut it in a U.S. Open. Crawford responded well in the ensuing 14 holes, going 1-under in that stretch.

Crawford's coach Mike Dynda, who teaches him at LuLu Country Club in Glenside, Pennsylvania, said he makes a big point to prepare Crawford's mind for his big rounds.

"I texted him last night and said, 'When you got to sleep, imagine that you're on the 18th hole and you have a putt for 9-under,'" Dynda said. "It's important to go to sleep and dream like that."

On the other side, Dynda — who taught the golf team at Drexel from 2003-2015 — also told his pupil to stay away from expectations. When you're 23 and you're playing in your second consecutive U.S. Open, one might think it would be easy to get ahead of yourself. Not so with Crawford, according to Dynda.

"I've taught him to not have any expectations for the five years we've been together," Dynda said. 

Crawford had a superstar practice round on Monday, playing with Jordan Spieth, Jim Furyk and Wisconsin's own Steve Stricker.

"It was a lot of fun playing with those guys and just watching them strategize about learning a brand new U.S. Open course," Crawford said. "I think that's the biggest thing I was impressed with, was the way they talked about strategy on this golf course.

"They were all very nice with me and were very specific to ask about me and they wanted to learn a little bit about my life, so I appreciated that."

For Dynda, talking with Furyk brought back a fond memory. Furyk's father, Mike, actually sold Dynda his first set of golf clubs, Tommy Armor 845s, back in Philadelphia years ago. 

With one round in the books and the forecast calling for rain this weekend, Crawford was looking forward to having the proper mentality as he headed into Friday's second round.

"I want to go out there and just not get ahead of myself," Crawford said. "I'm going to think positively and appreciate that I'm playing in the national open."

Crawford teed off at 2:31 p.m. local time off of the 10th hole.

"This week is so cool because I never do something like this," Crawford said. "Playing in front of such large crowds is a treat and I just love the interaction with the fans before and after the rounds as well."

Last year at Oakmont, dozens of friends and family made the drive down the turnpike to see him play in his first U.S. Open. This year, Crawford estimates that he has around 15 friends and family out in the galleries cheering him on. Though coach Dynda caddied last year, those duties have gone to current Drexel golf coach Ben Feld.

It's a party this week of Drexel golf proportions.

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Atlantic 10 reveals 2017-18 schedule pairings

Philadelphia basketball fans will be getting a double dip of one of the Atlantic 10 conference's best rivalries once again next season.

With the league's 18-game regular season format in place for a fourth straight year, it was revealed Wednesday afternoon that Saint Joseph's and La Salle will battle twice — once in North Philly at Tom Gola Arena and a second time at the Hawks' home just off City Line Avenue. Each team in the 14-member conference will play eight teams once and five teams twice.

The full pairings for the Explorers and Saint Joe's are listed here:

La Salle
Home: Dayton, George Mason, St. Bonaventure, VCU, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis
Away: Davidson, Duquesne, George Washington, Richmond, Fordham, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Saint Joseph’s, Saint Louis

Saint Joseph’s
Home: Dayton, Duquesne, Saint Louis, VCU, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure
Away: Davidson, George Washington, Rhode Island, Richmond, Fordham, George Mason, La Salle, Massachusetts, St. Bonaventure

It was also rumored earlier in the day that the Hawks have added a Big Five matchup at Temple for Dec. 9.