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Tech Rugby Club Beats New Mexico State

SOCORRO, N.M. March 29, 2016 – The New Mexico Tech Rugby Club turned away the challenge of New Mexico State University Saturday, handing the visiting Chiles a 46-17 defeat.

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Tech flyhalf John Mark Stiles jukes past an NMSU defender in Socorro Saturday. 

 

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Tech center Kris Ford drives into NMSU’s back line From left to right are teammates Fritz Hieb, Geno Palermo, and Brian Arko.

 

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David Parsons (facing camera) helps Jake Maxey tackle P.J. Schmidt, on temporary loan to NMSU’s Chiles. Parsons was named Man of the Match.

Photos by William Colburn 

   
   

The Pygmies scored five of their seven tries in the second 40 minutes to steadily pull out from a tight 15-10 halftime lead. It was Tech’s third consecutive spring victory against two losses.

Playing against a moderate westerly breeze in the first half, the home team went ahead 3-0 just three minutes into the match on a 20-meter penalty kick by fullback Javier Koerdell. The Pygmies showed their developing fondness for a pass-and-support style of play five minutes later asKoerdell fielded a kick and beat a would-be tackler to start a long passing movement involving fellow back John Mark Stiles, flank forward Nigel Ruckhaus, and lock Fritz Hieb, who eventually burst through the remaining defenders to score. Koerdell’s conversion slid away for an 8-0 Tech lead.

The Chiles scored next after several muscular runs brought them within striking range. Lack of field vision by the Pygmies contributed to severe pressure near their own try line and an attempted clearing kick was charged down for an easy five-pointer. The conversion was missed but Tech’s lead was cut to 8-5 after 12 minutes.

Tech responded three minutes later as the efforts of all 15 players were enlisted to sustain an attack on State’s stingy goal line defense. After an estimated 12 phases of play senior flyhalf John Mark Stiles took the last pass to touch down near the goalposts. Koerdell’s easy conversion made it 15-5.

Although set scrums were an area of surprising strength for a Tech team far outweighed by their opponents, on one occasion the ball popped unexpectedly out the side for NMSU scrumhalf George Gregan to scoop up and pass for an alert Sean Fitzpatrick to touch down. Again the conversion kick misfired and Tech took an uneasy 15-10 lead into the five-minute intermission.

In the second half Tech's eight forwards continued to win a lion's share of ball possession in the scrums and lineouts (inbound throws). More than once the visitors' scrum was broken completely apart, and Isaac Juarez gained ground on Tech's first pick and run play in several seasons from his position at the back of the scrum.  

The table was set for Tech's developing fleet of athletic backline players, who treated the Pygmy faithful to a 40-minute display of running and passing not seen in recent seasons. Seemingly each time a Pygmy was about to be tackled, a teammate was there to take a pass and carry the attack forward.

220-pound center Tanner Graham scored just two minutes into the half, using his surprising pace to scamper the final 35 meters after passing and receiving the ball at least twice. His successful drop kick conversion kick made it Tech 22, NMSU 10.

First-season Tech wing Jake Maxey hit paydirt soon afterward following a continuous passing attack featuring several of his teammates. Tech's lead stood at 27-10 after Koerdell's kick missed the mark but the fullback was consoled with a try a few minutes later after initiating yet another long-range passing attack. Graham's kick glanced off the upright but Tech held a 32-10 lead. 

True to their 40-year-plus tradition the Chiles would not quit. They stemmed the Pygmy tide in the half's middle minutes, and even bagged a short-range try halfway through the half to cut Tech's lead to 32-17. But the toll of playing so much defense was coming due.

Three minutes before full time Maxey showed outstanding skill by plucking a kicked ball out of the air and streaking 30 meters for Tech's sixth try, converted for a 39-17 advantage by halfback Brian Arko.

Fittingly, veteran forward Blaine Trujillo got Tech's final five-pointer started, with an outrageous dummy (fake) pass that bewildered nearby defenders long enough for Brian Arko to take Trujillo’s short pass and touch down Tech’s final try, converted by Koerdell for the final 46-17 margin.

First-season forward Dave Parsons was named Man of the Match by captains Hieb and Stiles. The Pygmies travel to Albuquerque’s Balloon Fiesta Park on Saturday, April 2, for a 3 p.m. match with Adams State University of Alamosa, Colo. The game will be part of a daylong schedule of youth, high school, collegiate, and club matches showcasing New Mexico rugby. 

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director