Tech flyhalf Enrique Koerdell (#10) makes a tackle on NMSU captain Wes Woods in Tech’s 28-19 win Saturday in Socorro. Tech’s Isaiah Sanchez is at left. Photo by Dave Wheelock
In the day’s first match, the Hawks of Volcano Vista High in Albuquerque clobbered the Las Cruces Mayfield Trojans 35-0, followed by a nail-biting 15-7 contest taken by the Los Alamos Nukes over Las Cruces High’s Bull Dawgs.
The hometown Pygmies held their own in the opening minutes despite unpredictable ball possession resulting from a creaky scrum and a continuing pattern of subpar lineouts (inbounds plays). After 25 minutes NMSU captain and number eight forward Wes Woods waded through tackles to score a try from a penalty situation near Tech’s line. The two-point conversion kick by Michael Lynagh was good for a 7-0 lead. Ten minutes later Lynagh sidestepped a Tech midfield defender and ran 20 meters untouched to score between the goalposts to allow an easy conversion kick and a 14-0 New Mexico State lead.
The Pygmies finally awoke eight minutes into the second half when flyhalf Enrique Koerdell booted a long kick downfield and a pair of his teammates went in hot pursuit. The defending wing could not get to the ball and Tech’s Man of the Match Tyler Fletcher took a fortuitous bounce in full stride, shook off the fullback’s attempted tackle, and covered the remaining 30 yards in short order. Jordan Fastle made the conversion kick and Tech trailed 14-7.
Five minutes later the Pygmy forwards advanced the ball and scrumhalf Rick Cosentino passed to his backs, and two passes brought the ball to center Jason Lee. The powerful freshman stepped inside one defender, spun through two more tackles, and sprinted 25 meters to touch the ball down between the posts. Fastle’s kick was good and the scores were knotted at 14.
Midway through the 40-minute half Tech was again knocking at the door, this time from a lineout throw. NMT worked the ball in front of the uprights through the course of a few tackles and when the ball came free from a knot of players Cosentino alertly flipped it up for the close-running Lee to plunge over the line from 5 meters. Fastle’s kick gave Tech the lead over a visibly shaken Chiles side, 21-14.
Six minutes from full time the Pygmies put questions to rest when flanker Jerod Aragon ran the ball from a penalty situation with his fellow forwards in support. The Pygmies won the ball after Aragon was tackled, and a few passes later center Brock Romero found his way over the line to add Tech’s fourth unanswered try. Fastle kept his kicking rate perfect and Tech took a commanding 28-14 lead.
New Mexico State recovered the resulting kickoff and maintained possession through several tackles before forcing a penalty close to Tech’s try line. The powerful Woods foot-tapped and ran through a tackle to tally his second try to bring State within nine at 28-19. Lynagh’s conversion attempt was wide but it didn’t matter as referee Anthony Nichols’s whistle signaled completion of a scrappy Tech victory.
New Mexico Tech’s women’s rugby team, the Queens, will join forces with the Pygmies to stage the “sometimes annual” Socorro Challenge rugbyfest on April 7. A total of eight teams are expected for the all-day celebration of rugby at the New Mexico Tech athletic ground. In the women’s division, the Queens will welcome Northern Arizona University’s Timberdoodles, the Tucson Lightning, and the NMSU Lady Chiles. On the men’s side the Pygmies will challenge NMSU, the Fort Bliss Strykers, and the Las Cruces Horny Toads.
– NMT –
By Dave Wheelock /Tech Rugby Director