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UA rugby team beats Air Force, ready for Sydney

By Dan Rosen
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
November 23, 1999
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For the UA men's club rugby team, seven times is a charm.

After losing to the Air Force Academy six times in a row dating back to 1985, the Wildcats finally defeated the Falcons 27-6 on Saturday afternoon in the Domino's Invitational.

The Wildcats (1-1) started the season with a loss at New Mexico the week before, but rallied back after a strong week of practice to blowout Air Force.

"We know our players and they had an uncharacteristic game at New Mexico," UA head coach Dave Sitton said. "We weren't ready, but characteristic of the guys, they came back the next week and played more of how we are accustomed to playing."

The scoreboard was first lit up on the UA side 12 minutes into the game when fullback Ken Goto nailed a 28-yard penalty goal. After UA put themselves on the board, they continued to stop several Air Force drives that went into UA territory for the next 10 minutes.

At the 22-minute mark in the first half, UA wing Mike McCartney set up a 25-yard run by center Dan Duncan by saving a loose ball possession. With Goto's conversion, UA led 10-0.

Air Force found the scoreboard after UA was caught offsides as flyhalf Mike Schmitz kicked a 35-yard goal, making the score 10-3.

The Wildcats took complete control just a few minutes later when Josh Allen scampered seven yards out of a scrum, scoring UA's second try of the game and putting the score at 17-3 after Goto's kick.

The second half was a ball-control half for UA as lock Jim Shuster continued his remarkable performance, carrying the ball 11 times in the game and getting tackled 11 times, but never once did he lose a possession.

"Shuster had an extraordinary game," Sitton said. "He is just in his second year, but he is making adjustments. Not once did he turn the ball over, it was remarkable."

UA added trys by flyhalf Jonathan Gray and McCartney in the second half, securing the victory.

Returning to the lineup for the Wildcats was All-American fullback Chris Kron and Mike Martinez, both of whom played one-half apiece at the fullback position.

"They both made major contributions," Sitton said. "Chris started at fullback, which is his normal position, and Mike came in the second half at fullback, so he was a bit out of position."

The Wildcats now turn their attention towards Sydney University of Australia as they play them in an exhibition game this afternoon at 3:45 at Estevan Park (1000 N. Main at Speedway Blvd.)

The match is the first between the two schools, but UA has toured Australia on three different occasions including this past summer when the Wildcats played Melbourne University.

"They ran it up against Stanford 38-0 and yesterday (Monday) they took care of UNLV 72-0," Sitton said. "We are going to try and score on them. We are going to make sure they have a great time in Tucson, but we are going to score on them."

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