Red Wolf Rugby's championship quest falls short to Brigham Young
USA Rugby contributed to this story
Arkansas State University’s rugby team fell short in its quest for a national title as the Red Wolves dropped a close 49-42 decision to Brigham Young Saturday night in the USA Rugby Men’s D1A College Rugby National Championship in Sandy, Utah.
Third-ranked ASU jumped to an early 8-0 lead over the top-ranked Cougars before BYU roared back to take a 27-15 lead in the first half in Rio Tinto Stadium in front of a crowd of 8,733.
ASU’s Pat Sullivan earned the first points for the Red Wolves on a penalty kick courtesy of an infringement call against the Cougars. But, ASU then made a series of penalties that allowed BYU back in the game behind the efforts of Shaun Davies, Fa’aitua Laei and Kekumi Tuaone.
In the second half, The Red Wolves managed to post two separate leads as Arkansas State battled back in the last 20 minutes and managed to score two more tries through Dale Bates and Paul Benade. Although ASU mounted a strong comeback, BYU managed to control the clock and the pace of the game.
Benade’s score came in the 80th minute and brought the Red Wolves to within seven points, but it was a little too late and BYU hung on to win.
The Red Wolves finished the season with an overall record of 8-3, while BYU is 17-0. ASU was competing for its first-ever rugby national championship and has lost to BYU in the national playoffs in three of the last four years. The two programs met in last year’s final four with BYU coming away with the 36-15 win on a cold and rainy night in Glendale, Colo.
The Cougars played in their seventh straight championship. Brigham Young also won the national title in 2009.
ASU Head Coach Matt Huckaby’s squad earned its way into the 2012 finals by defeating St. Mary’s in Morago, Calif., 31-17.
“This may the best BYU team they have had,” said Huckaby. "But, I’m proud of our team. We fought hard.”
Tries: Tuaone, Laei, Davies, Taylor, Lasike, Su’a
Conversions: Davies (5)
Penalties: Davies (3)
Arkansas State 42
Tries: Gericke, Mizell (2), Sullivan, Bates, Benade
Conversions: Sullivan (3)
Penalties: Sullivan (2)
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