By WES HOST
The Mother’s Rugby Division III team took on Hampden-Sydney College last Saturday afternoon as a part of the homecoming festivities. The Mother’s won 26-14, and they scored 13 unanswered second-half points to secure the victory. The beginning of the game was a stalemate full of choppy play and halted by officials. When Mary Washington finally got some momentum off of a scrum, freshman Albert Tejera took the ball up the left sideline and touched it down for the games first try. Junior `Mike Wehr came on for the point after and cleared the uprights to put the Mother’s up 7-0.
A lethargic pace ensued as neither team made much ground after Mary Washington’s first try. However, in the 20th minute, the Tigers found the equalizer from Everton Batista. The Mother’s showed off poor tackling skills, being unable to pin Batista. He made it past the touchline and continued evading tackles. He eventually touched the ball down in the middle of the field resulting in a shoe-in point after to tie the score at 7-7.
Hampden-Sydney had a gargantuan front line that clearly outmatched the Mother’s size. Yet Mary Washington made up for that shortcoming with their superior athleticism. Mary Washington junior Robert Higgins converted a try 11 minutes later to put the Mother’s up again. After the Mother’s forced a turnover deep in Tigers’ territory, Higgins took four Hampden-Sydney defenders with him and touched the ball in the middle to set up an easy conversion kick. The score remained 14-7 UMW at halftime.
The second half began with an aggressive Hampden-Sydney possession. The sloppy tackling the Mother’s exhibited in the first half was now on point. The Tigers spent a good amount of time on the doorsteps of their end line, but the Mary Washington defense held up. After countless tries, Hampden-Sydney finally broke through and scored a try five minutes into the half. The drop kick was good to tie score again.
The Tigers controlled possession and had convincing downfield drives. When they were stopped before the try zone they resorted to kicking drop goals.
The first one was no good from 40 yards out, as the kick sailed wide to the left. Five minutes later, Hampden-Sydney attempted another drop goal, but the ball bounced off of the right upright.
The Mother’s offense desperately needed to a sustained possession that ended in points to turn the tide and take back some of the momentum from the Tigers.
When Mary Washington got possession again, Tejera had a convincing run that put the Mother’s back in scoring position with 10 minutes to play. From there they fought through a series of scrums and gradually inched the ball past the end line. The extra point pinged off the upright but Mary Washington still had a 19-14 lead.
Hampden-Sydney got the ball back but couldn’t keep possession as they had trouble connecting passes. On one of their lackluster passes, Robert Higgins picked the ball off and was off to the races. Higgins was tackled five yards before the end line to put Mary Washington in a great position to cushion their lead. A great effort came from the ever-present Tejera ensued, and he converted a try and the conversion goal was successful to give UMW the 26-14 lead. The Mother’s held onto win by that score.
“Some games you’re tired afterwards, some games you feel on top of the world,” sophomore Eric Knapp said. “After this game I just feel grateful, grateful that I had the opportunity to play with a great group of guys.”
The Mary Washington Division III team next matchup is against the University of Richmond this Saturday.