TV Sunday: NBCSN 2-4 p.m. ET / 11 a.m.-1 p.m. PT, NBC 4-6 p.m. ET / 1-3 p.m. PT
PHILADELPHIA – California won its pool Saturday and earned the top seed for the championship round at the Collegiate Rugby Championship in PPL Park with victories over Drexel and Maryland, finishing pool play with a tournament-best +93 points differential following Friday’s opening victory over Temple. The Golden Bears face Penn State in a championship quarterfinal Sunday at 10:20 a.m. ET/7:20 a.m. PT as Cal seeks to win three games on the final day for its second straight national championship in 7s.
Championship-round action begins Sunday with the No. 1 Bears facing the Nittany Lions in one quarterfinal, with the winner advancing to a semifinal vs. the winner of UCLA vs. Dartmouth at 3 p.m. ET/noon PT. The other quarterfinals feature Navy vs. Life and Michigan vs. Kutztown, with the survivors of those matches squaring off in the second semifinal.
The championship final between the last two teams standing kicks off at 5:29 p.m. ET/2:29 p.m. PT on NBC. Televised action at the CRC runs in the Pacific Time zone from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on NBCSN and 1-3 p.m. on NBC.
The winner of the tournament receives the Pete Dawkins Trophy, named for the three-time Oxford Blue and Rhodes Scholar who also won the Heisman Trophy as a gridiron halfback for Army at West Point before a decorated military career that ended with his rank of Brigadier General.
“It gets really difficult from here. There isn’t much in it between these final teams,” said head coach Jack Clark. “I think our performance has improved each match, which is always a positive gauge. This said, the knockout rounds require even more improved play and, to be honest, a bit of good fortune.”
In their first match on Saturday, the Bears shut out the Drexel Dragons, 36-0, on a six-try effort that included a pair scored by captain Seamus Kelly. Jake Anderson went 3-for-6 on conversions, connecting on his attempts following Kelly’s second try and those scored by Anthony Salaber and Nicklas Boyer. Jesse Milne and Paul Bosco added unconverted five-pointers for the Blue and Gold.
Against the Terrapins, the Bears bagged another six tries – two from Bosco and the others from Andrew Battaglia, Russell Webb, Kelly and Patrick Barrientes – and got five conversions from Webb (5-for-6). Cal yielded one unconverted try to Maryland just before halftime before clinching the top spot in Pool A with 26 unanswered points in the second half.
“We improved as the day went on, upping our performance level and building on what we needed to improve on to culminate with a pretty good win over Maryland,” said Kelly, who will compete for the last time as a collegiate player on Sunday. “We'll have a challenge tomorrow hoping to play three matches starting with a very good Penn State team. You can count on everybody being sore. The mental aspect could be a difference maker in who advances all the way to the championship.”
For complete results from the first two days of the tournament and Sunday’s full championship schedule, visit http://www.usasevenscrc.com/2014-fixtures-and-results/.
The Scoring Timeline vs. Drexel
07:00 Jesse Milne 5
Halftime Score: California 19, Drexel 0
08:00 Seamus Kelly 5
11:00 Paul Bosco 5
Final Score: California 36, Drexel 0
The Team vs. Drexel
1. A. Salaber, 2. Barrientes, 3. Hendrickson, 4. Boyer, 5. Bosco, 6. Anderson, 7. Milne
Replacements: Webb, Kelly, Battaglia
The Scoring Timeline vs. Maryland
05:00 Russell Webb 5, 2
07:00 Maryland (Mike Messina) 5
Halftime Score: California 14, Maryland 5
11:00 Patrick Barrientes 5
Final Score: California 40, Maryland 5
The Team vs. Maryland
1. Gletzer, 2. Harrington, 3. Kelly, 4. Webb, 5. Bosco, 6. Anderson, 7. Battaglia
Replacements: Barrientes, Boyer, Hendrickson, Milne, A. Salaber