Life University won Pool E in an exciting comeback over Delaware at the CRC at PPL Park in Philadelphia Saturday.
Delaware and Life started off superbly. LIfe defended and kept Delaware under control, and the Blue Hens kept working the angles.
Eventually Steve Sanchez wriggled through one Life tackler and offloaded to Rob Benedetto to race into the Life 22. The Running Eagles made their tackles, and seemed to be out of danger when they dragged a player into touch. But the lneout failed Life at a critical moment, and John Vannoy nabbed the ball at the back and zipped through two defenders to score.
Chris Mattina made the conversion and Delaware led 7-0.
Mistakes would be crucial in this game, and Life was determined to bury the memory of that one.
After a few misfires, Life got five back when Colton Cariaga sent an audacious pass out wide to Joe Cowley, who easily cantered in to the corner.
That was the first half done, as both defenses made the other team work very hard for any territory. Delaware changed ends up 7-5.
Life mistakes cost them in the second half, too. An ill-advised offload put Kowalski away to the corner, and only some dogged cover defense from Zach Miller and Cam Dolan prevented a try. But then Cariaga, trying to run out of his own in-goal, sent a pass that Glen Thommes easily picked off and took in for a try. Conversion no good and the Blue Hens led 12-5.
But Life replied. Calvin Nell drew some tacklers and popped a lovely offload to Cowley for his second. Cowley made the kick, too, and the game was tied 12-12 with three minutes to go.
And then it was 19-12. Life won the ball from the restart, and spent a good 45 seconds trying to find some daylight to run to. Eventually Cariaga found a little daylight and then scissored with Dolan, who stretched his legs and just made it to the corner. Cowley hit the touchline conversion, and moments later Cariaga capped off a snappy move punctuated by a football pass across the field, and just like that Life was in control 24-12.
Delaware almost got one back with 30 seconds to go, when John Vannoy took off down the sideline. But Cowley caught him and pushed him into touch. That was it. Life, so dominant earlier, looked vulnerable, but fixed their errors and thanks to some big plays from Joe Cowley win Pool E.