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Kentucky is the new No. 1 team in FloRugby's D1AA Rankings.
The reason for this, despite Mary Washington's strong finish and Dartmouth doing what Dartmouth usually does, is that UK won two playoff games in fine fashion over strong opposition.
The Wildcats took down Alabama 40-22 on Saturday in the SCRC semis and then toppled Tennessee 26-22 in the final later that day.
"Alabama gave us a real physical game on Saturday, forcing us to play a fair amount of defense and take a lot of contact," Wildcats head coach Gary Anderson said. "Fortunately, we were able to come out of the game with the win and healthy."
That set up the final on Sunday with Tennessee, playing at the Vols' home ground in Knoxville. Tennessee had upended South Carolina (touted somewhat heavily by FloRugby last week) 27-17 to make the championship game.
"On Sunday, we had expected Tennessee to kick a fair amount for field position hoping to force us into errors and take advantage of the field position, and that's what they did," Anderson said. "In the first half I felt we were able to control the game and keep our offense running, which put Tennessee on their back foot and gave us the lead at half. The second half was a different story. Tennessee controlled The possession almost entirely and really pressured us hard when we did have the ball."
That pressure and Kentucky's inability to stay composed kept the Wildcats pinned in their own end.
But, with 12 minutes left, Kentucky fly-hacked a loose back down the field and from there scored the game-winner.
"(UT coach) Marty Bradley and his coaching staff put together a brilliant game plan that made us earn every inch and was by far our toughest challenge of the season," Anderson said. "It took us six years to build the program from last to first."
Bowling Green also moved up to No. 7 in the rankings after righting the ship well enough to win the MAC. Louisville bumped up a spot to No. 12, and 18th-ranked Central Florida continues to impress, quietly, in the SIRC. Harvard, ranked 29th, took a shot after losing to Yale, which now comes in at No. 39. Also nudging up is No. 26 Oregon as the NCRC gets started.