@GonzagaRugby Defeats #1 Xavier in Thrilling Comeback – Readies for More Big Tests

Down 20-17 to top-ranked Xavier with under two minutes left, on the road, after the home team had just scored to take the lead, Gonzaga’s M Brown ’17 stole the ball and passed to Matt Freeman ’19 who moved it to Jack DuFour ’18 for the off-load to Cliff Wallace ’17! Watch the dramatic finish here:

The Varsity Purple Eagles have another big road trip this weekend as they travel to Ohio for two games at Xavier University.  The team will take on St. Ignatius (OH) on Saturday and the KC Blues on Sunday.

The team hopes to continue to improve in preparation for defending its third straight National Championship.  This week, the program held its “Ring Ceremony” where the current players who were on last year’s team received their rings:

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Here is a complete recap of the huge win over Xavier via Goff Rugby Report:

In a very well-played game played at Iona College between two teams that have a lot of respect for each other mixed with the intensity of a heated rivalry, Gonzaga led early through a try from hooker Matt Freeman.

Xavier pushed close with a penalty goal, only to see Gonzaga’s Owen Sheehy reply to make it 10-3 at halftime.

Xavier scored early in the second half to make it 10-8. And then Gonzaga got a yellow card, and right after a player left the field with a blood injury. However, since he was on the opposite side of the field from the coaches, the Gonzaga coaching staff did not know to send on a temporary sub, and so Gonzaga was down to 13. Xavier would have been up 15-14 regardless, and they scored to take the lead 13-10. Gonzaga replied with a try and ld 17-13.

Xavier came back, getting a penalty at a scrum, taking the lineout, and working the pressure enough to get a try and the lead 20-17.

At that point, there was precious little time left, and in fact Gonzaga was pretty sure it was close to the end of the game. Gonzaga restarted, chased well, and bottled up Xavier, holding up the ballcarrier. Flanker Mils Brown then made two key players. He ripped the ball free, and then also quickly realized that Gonzaga needed the move the ball quickly. So he passed almost immediately, and the ball went from Freeman to Jack DuFour out to wing Cliff Wallace, and Wallace did the rest.

That made it 24-20 Gonzaga. There was still time for Xavier to do something, but Gonzaga controlled the restart, worked a couple of phases, and kicked the ball out to win it.

Xavier did superbly to chase the score and finally get that lead. But they will also have to feel that had they set a ruck when they received the kickoff at 20-17, and worked the clock off, they could have won the game.

“This was a good game for us, and Xavier played really well,” said Gonzaga Head Coach Peter Bagetta. “They tackled well, as they always do, and they played tough the entire game. But we have learned a lot of late. With our losses to Doylestown and Fort Hunt, and our tour to Italy where we lost to two really strong academy teams, we have learned some lessons and come out the better of it.”

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