Life rode the boot of Joe Cowley to a 31-10 win over Lindenwood Saturday in muddy Marietta, Ga. The All American fullback slotted four penalties and two conversions, accounting for 16 of the Running Eagles’ points.
Lindenwood held Life off the scoreboard for the first 15 minutes, and scored a Morgan Findlay penalty to go up 3-0. But mounting pressure opened a hole for scrumhalf Taku Tela to slip through en route to a try. Regular Life scrumhalf Jake McFadden rested an injury and did not play.
“He hasn’t played much [halfback] for us, but after today’s performance he might be sprinkling in a bit more here and there,” said Life coach Dan Payne of Tela, a regular starter at wing. “He’s pretty dangerous with the ball in hand, and they pushed onto the forward runners and he was able to fold in behind them from about five or six meters out.”
Cowley converted, giving Life a 7-3 lead. Cowley then extended the lead, making it 13-3.
Life played the majority of the offense in the first half, as Lindenwood struggled in the set pieces, especially the lineout.
“We had a couple No. 8s playing lock, and our hooker was a little anxious early and we overthrew,” said Lindenwood coach Ron Laszewski. “We basically defended for probably at least two-thirds of that game, if not three-fourths.”
Just before intermission, weakside flanker Paris Hollis punched in his first of two tries in the game, unconverted, making it 18-3 at halftime.
“We run a lot off of nine with our forwards, and if we can get enough phases together where he can get a one-on-one situation on the wing or anywhere around there, he has a lot of success,” Payne said.
Cowley extended Life’s lead at the onset of the second half, slotting back-to-back penalties to make it 24-3. Then Lindenwood strung together an impressive possession to put No. 8 Sebastian Kalm in for the Lions’ only try of the day.
“We went through a dozen phases or so and just kept pounding,” said Laszewski. “We went left, and Sebastian happened to be out there, broke a couple of tackles and went in from about 20 yards out.”
Lindenwood saw a couple of scoring opportunities go uncapitalized on, but competed for the rest of the second half before Hollis scored his second try near the death.
“It was 24-10 forever in the second half, and it looked like we might put in a try and they held us out,” said Laszewski. “But for these guys it was a great learning experience. We played within three tries of these guys and it could have been closer. The guys aren’t hanging their heads at all.”
Both Payne and Laszewski spoke highly of the play of Lions scrumhalf Mickey Bateman, Lindenwood flankers Trevor Locke and Tyler Black, and Findlay, who counter attacked well.
Both Lindenwood and Life are idle next week for spring break. The Lions then host Arkansas State on April 6, and the Running Eagles travel to Davenport.
Tries: Hollis (2), Tela
Cons: Cowley (2)
Pens: Cowley (4)