Heading into the semifinal, Royal Irish looked to dominate at the breakdown, and Doylestown wanted to control territory with Mike Weir's kicking. However, it was Royal Irish who were able to pin Doylestown back in its 22 for much of the game.
Since 2012, Royal Irish have played 17 games at the national championships and lost twice. In their previous five trips to the finals, they won the title in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
They will take on a new opponent this year, as Fort Hunt held off two-time national finalist Granite Bay 10-8 to make the final. Fort Hunt was in its first national semifinal, and maybe the gravity of the situation prompted their impatience. Whatever the reason, Fort Hunt was unable to convert some scoring opportunities, getting held up by a tough Granite Bay defense and knocking on near the line, as well.
Granite Bay took an early lead from a Jon Rogers penalty, but then Fort Hunt No. 8 Daniel Trump scored on a 35-meter ramble off an eight-man pick. Flyhalf Robert Figley converted and added a penalty later for a 10-3 lead. Granite Bay bashed its way close and was able to get over in the corner. However, the conversion was missed, and Fort Hunt held on for the win.
Also in high school club action, United looked impressive in defeating a smaller but brave West End team 37-12. United couldn't kick its conversions but got a big game from fiery center Owen Gubler, who scored twice, and a captain's effort from No. 8 Bailey Wilson. But the guy who set fire to the game was fullback Eli Pulu, who wove and ran his way to two tries and was electric all afternoon.
"We just wanted to pick up our game," Pulu said. "We needed to play more as a team and put a better effort into our game."
The Kansas City Junior Blues held off Elsie Allen 18-17 in a game in which the Californian Lobos team showed they can hang with the big boys. Both teams ran into problems with high tackles and tempers flared at times. Elsie Allen's centers gave KC all kinds of problems, forcing multiple tacklers to stop them. The Blues had an organized defense, and they had some goal-line stands. But it was KC's goalkicking and tenacity that saw it through.
While Royal Irish and Fort Hunt will battle for the championship on Sunday, Doylestown and Granite Bay will play for third. United and KC Jr. Blues are set to play for fifth, and Elsie Allen and West End will battle for seventh.
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