RED-BLUE RECAP: BLUE DEFEATS RED IN PRESEASON FINALE
Ryan Fitzpatrick helped the Blue team to a victory with his strong play in the breakdowns.
Nov 21- Arizona officially concluded their preseason this Friday with the 2nd Annual Red-Blue Game at Sitton Field. This year's event doubled as a fundraiser for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, with 100% of all proceeds going towards the HSSA. With puppies on hand, adoptions underway, and the teams ready to go, the Red-Blue Game got started, led by honorary alumni guest coaches Tony Marcotte (Red Team) and Paul Enegren (Blue Team).
The Red team jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on a linebreak by Flyhalf Kyle Rogers, with the Red Captain gashing the line and Luke Thayer converting. Blue responded quickly in the Forwards, with a Calvin Brannon box kick putting Red under pressure and Prop Kurt Vecchio scoring their first try which was convered by Flyhalf Anton Grigoriou to make it 7-7. Both teams got on the board to close out the half, as Prop/Hooker Steven Branham scored in the left corner before Number Eight Tyler Hansen offloaded to Prop Cody Hunt for the try to tie it at 14 going in to halftime. The first period featured the top two teams at the current point in the preseason depth chat, and the coaches were pleased at the overall results, highlighting a few players who showed well. "A lot of strong performances in that half, but the guys that jumped out to me were Kyle Rogers, Tyler Hansen, and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who had major impacts on the game in attack and in the breakdowns and it was good to see them end the Fall well."
The second period featured a hockey style shift in both lineups, with the Red team jumping out to an early lead. Lock/Flanker Charlie Harden got the scoring going for the Red team, shaking off a tackle to get in to the try zone to make it 21-14 Red early in the second period. A Blue try by Lock Luke Ferrari set the stage for an exciting Blue team try, as a kick ahead by Wing/Center Tony Steffany led to a Patrice Mogaka try to make it 28-21 Blue. The Blue team backline did the rest, as Doug Neary and Luke Vakasisikakala each dotted down to make it 40-28 Blue. The coaching staff was also pleased with the second period, as players aimed to take advantage of their final audition before the regular season starts in January.
The match was a great success not just on the field, as the Humane Society received all proceeds from the match, raising just under $1,000 for the cause. "We're pleased to be able to support the HSSA and we know this is just the start of our partnership to help them with their efforts" said Duffy. In addition, honorary alumni guest coaches Marcotte and Enegren reconnected with the team and shared some stories about the rich history of Arizona Rugby. "We were so thankful to have Paul and Tony back on campus this week, and our boys loved being able to work with two alumni who helped pave the way for what we do today as a program."
The Wildcats now close the book on their most successful preseason in recent years, having gone undefeated at both the Junior Varsity and Developmental levels in Fifteens and winning the West Coast Sevens for the first time in program history. Arizona Sevens concluded their preseason last week, winning the Bowl at the PAC Sevens in their first year hosting the conference showcase with Sunday's matches all being broadcast live on the PAC-12 Network's regional and national channels. Arizona's regular season schedule will be announced shortly.
Tries: K. Rogers, Branham, Harden, Griffiths
Conversions: Thayer- 2/2, Easton- 2/2
Tries: Vecchio, Hunt, Ferrari, Mogaka, Neary, Vakasisikakala
Conversions: Villalobos- 3/3, Grigoriou- 2/2, Neary- 0/1