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Pygmies Finish Fall Season in Second Place

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. November 18, 2014 – The New Mexico Tech Pygmy Rugby Club ended their fall season Saturday with a 22-13 loss to the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. If moral victories truly exist this would be one as the last time Tech ventured onto Johnson Field on the same weekend one year ago they sustained a 90-7 whipping.

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University of New Mexico wing Shane Williams is tackled by Jordan Cassel of New Mexico Tech as Pygmy backs captain John Mark Stiles moves in to help. Behind Stiles are freshman players Jake Wilkins (left) and Chris Schmittle.



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Tech freshman Chris Schmittle advances to take a pass from scrum half Brian Arko with ball possession won by Fritz Hieb and Darien Williams at right. In support of the play are (L to R) freshman Jake Wilkins and sophomore Carl Peart.

Photos by Dave Wheelock/New Mexico Tech

 

While it can’t be said the Pygmies should have won against the Rio Grande Rugby Union’s only unbeaten collegiate team, they very well could have given the determination with which they played. With scholastic priorities preventing the team from congregating for full practices for over three weeks it appeared before kickoff that the sky very well might fall on the Techies.

The Lobos ominously drew first blood just four minutes into the 80-minute match when fullback Jason Robinson took a short pass to finish a storming break through Tech’s defense by No. 8 forward Martin Corry. The missed conversion kick attempt by Eric Laight left UNM’s lead at 5-0. The Pygmies showed their mettle by battling into UNM’s end of the field and at six minutes forced the defenders into a penalty in a tackle situation. Javier Koerdell’s 20 meter penalty kick cut the margin to 5-3.

UNM enjoyed the upper hand in both scrummages and lineouts and seemed likely to eventually wear down Tech’s enthusiastic tackling. At 29 minutes Corry struck for another try on a penalty play near the Pygmies’ try line. This time Laight’s kick was true to advance UNM’s lead to 12 - 3. Things seemed to be falling into place for the Lobos when right wing Manuel Montero was gifted a soft try eight minutes before halftime. But soon after Laight missed the conversion kick Tech head captain Jason Lee, the Pygmy version of a secret weapon, took a close pass from scrum half Brian Arko and burst through the middle of the Lobos’ defense on a 35-meter scoring run. Koerdell’s kick missed and the teams changed ends at 17-8.

Tech cut their deficit just four minutes into the second half when Koerdell rounded the corner of the defense at midfield and wove his way 20 meters before being tackled. Fly half John Mark Stiles took Koerdell’s pass and drove over the line to score before the latter picked himself up and converted the kick to make the score UNM 17, NMT 13.

Corry literally took things into his own hands 10 minutes later as he ran from the back of a scrum near Tech’s line and barreled over for five points. Laight missed the relatively easy conversion to leave matters at 22-13. 

The last 25 minutes produced no additional scoring as the Lobos threatened to score several times only to be denied by scrambling Pygmy defenders. Tech’s scrum stiffened through some positional adjustments and as their attacking opportunities increased UNM found themselves forced into numerous penalties trying to cope with the Pygmies’ growing confidence. The Lobos were fortunate to not concede more points as youthful impatience led the Pygmies to forego their best option in at least one penalty situation. 

Senior utility back Aaron Long was named Tech’s Man of the Match in his last game for New Mexico Tech before attaining a degree in mechanical engineering in December. Aaron and identical twin Ben, both accomplished gymnasts and officials in that arena, are likely to pass with honors.  

Tech finishes the first half of the Rio Grande Rugby Union collegiate competition with wins over UTEP and NMSU against the UNM loss. The four teams will complete the double round robin in the spring semester before gathering for the championships in Socorro in April.

– NMT –

By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director