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New Mexico Tech Beats UTEP on the Road

EL PASO, Texas, February 17, 2014 – New Mexico Tech evened their record in the Rio Grande Rugby Union’s collegiate standings to two wins versus two losses Saturday with a 48-12 victory over the University of Texas at El Paso Miners in Anthony, N.M. Last fall the Pygmies squeaked past UTEP 19-17 at home before losing to New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico. They will face UNM at home March 1 and NMSU in Las Cruces on March 15 to determine final seedings in the Rio Grande Rugby Football Union collegiate championship tournament, which will be April 5 in Socorro.

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Tech's Steve Bernsen (13) and Jason Lee encounter a loose ball during the second half of New Mexico Tech's 48-12 victory over the UTEP Miners. Moving into a support position behind Lee is Rourke Nakai.

 

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Forwards of the University of Texas at El Paso (left) and New Mexico Tech (right) rugby teams prepare to scrum in Anthony, N.M., during Saturday's 48-12 Tech victory. The UTEP team play their games on a rugby pitch carved out of a former winery.

 Photos by Emily Randall

Acclimatizing was an issue after weeks of practices in Socorro’s chilly evening weather, as temperatures Saturday hovered in the low 80's. In a high school curtain raiser El Paso Cathedral High School bowed to that city’s Spartan high school club team 29-17.

The Pygmies struck first after five minutes as prop forward Matt Perry scored his first-ever try from a pileup close to the Miner line. Fullback Joe Wilch kicked the two-point conversion for a 7-0 lead. Tech got five more points from their forwards after nine minutes when open side flanker Jason Lee scored after a blocked clearing kick. Wilch again connected to make it 14-0.

At 15 minutes, blind side flanker Javier Koerdell rambled 30 meters before passing to Lee, who in turn offloaded a pass for wing Dylan Clendenin to complete a long-range try. Center Steve Bernsen added the conversion for a 19-0 Tech advantage.

Tech got two more five-pointers before the half, with wing John Mark Stiles showing his pace on a long run down the right touchline and Bernsen gliding through the defense after taking a pass from rookie forward Moises Veleta.

With the outcome evident at 31-0, UTEP rallied somewhat in the second half. Their big forwards managed a close-range try just two minutes into the half, and added a similar score toward the end of the match. Meanwhile Jason Lee and Matt Perry each tallied their second tries of the day, while Steve Bernsen added a conversion kick.

Lee scored on a penalty play engineered by Bernsen and Perry’s short dive came after the Pygmy forwards destroyed a UTEP scrum close to their own tryline. Tech’s final try of the day was a beauty.

Head captain and No. 8 Blaine Trujillo ran from the base of a scrum five meters from UTEP’s try line after lock forward James Chavez blocked an attempted clearing kick. Wing Alex Malone streaked up on the short side to take a pass as Trujillo was tackled and dotted down in the corner.

First-season player and former U.S. Marine Moises Veleta was named Tech’s Man of the Match for his constant presence around the ball. Scrum half Rick Cosentino’s passes provided a steady link between the forward and back units, where John Mark Stiles was a constant threat at the wing position.

Tech will take on the undefeated UNM Lobos at home March 1. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at the Tech athletic ground.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock /Tech Rugby Director