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Penn Mutual Varsity Cup 2017 bracket

Penn Mutual Varsity Cup 2017 bracket

NEW YORK – The draw for the 2017 Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Rugby Championship has been announced, laying out pathways for the national postseason’s 14 collegiate rugby programs to reach the final of the single-elimination championship tournament. Round One kicks off April 8 at six different universities across the nation, followed by the April 15 quarterfinals and April 22 semifinals before the May 6 Varsity Cup national championship final.

For Round One on April 8, No. 1 California and No. 2 seed Central Washington receive a bye and will travel to face their quarterfinal opponents. Among the other top seeds, Round One takes No. 3 Arkansas State to face Oklahoma University in Norman, Okla., while No. 4 Penn State visits Cambridge, Mass., where it will meet Harvard University. Army hosts Notre Dame in West Point, N.Y.; Arizona State visits Los Angeles to play UCLA; Utah travels to Annapolis, Md., to battle Navy; and Dartmouth goes to Clemson, S.C., where it faces the Tigers from Clemson University.

 

The winner between Clemson and Dartmouth’s first-round matchup earns the right to host a quarterfinal on April 15, when the Tigers or Big Green take on top-seeded Cal, which will have learned of its opponent and booked travel plans from Berkeley to either Clemson or Hanover, N.H., on six days’ notice. The No. 3 Wildcats also travel in the quarterfinal round to face the winner of the Utes/Midshipmen match, taking CWU to either Navy or Salt Lake City. The Sun Devils or Bruins will meet the Red Wolves/Sooners winner in another quarterfinal clash, and the Irish/Army winner takes on Penn State or Harvard in the fourth quarterfinal.

The Varsity Cup semifinals will send advancing teams with lower seeds to the homes of the higher seeds for the national-championship qualifiers on April 22. Then, on May 6, the two surviving teams will meet at a location to be announced for the Varsity Cup national championship final.

ABOUT THE PENN MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY

Since its founding in 1847, Penn Mutual has been driven by its noble purpose to create a world of possibilities. At the heart of this purpose is the belief that purchasing life insurance is the most protective, responsible and rewarding action a person can take, and is central to a sound financial plan. The company is committed to helping individuals, families and small businesses unlock life’s possibilities through life insurance and annuity solutions. This is accomplished through a national network of more than 5,000 financial professionals, who help clients make great things possible. Penn Mutual supports its field representatives with brokerage services through Hornor, Townsend & Kent, Inc. Registered Investment Advisor and wholly owned subsidiary. Member FINRA/SIPC. Visit Penn Mutual on the Internet at http://www.pennmutual.com/.

ABOUT UNITED WORLD SPORTS

United World Sports (UWS) is the largest commercial rugby entity in the United States, and the owner and operator of a growing portfolio of dynamic sports, media and apparel brands including, the USA Sevens Rugby international tournament, the largest professional rugby event in North America; the Penn Mutual Collegiate Rugby Championship, the premier college 7s rugby championship; and the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Championship, the 15s national rugby championship. Through its apparel division, UWS owns the exclusive North and South American license for Rhino Rugby, one of the world’s leading rugby apparel and equipment brands. UWS also owns and operates RugbyToday.com, the largest and most widely read media destination dedicated to American rugby. For more information about UWS and its properties, visit: http://www.unitedworldsports.com

ABOUT THE VARSITY CUP RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP

The Varsity Cup is America’s top collegiate postseason championship. Established in 2013, the Varsity Cup features 14 of the most recognized and accomplished collegiate rugby programs in the United States, perennial conference champions from the most prestigious rugby conferences on the country, including the Ivy, Rugby East, PAC Rugby, Pacific Northwest, Mid-South, etc., along with elite at-large participants who have reached the national semifinals every year and the national collegiate championship in 31 of 33 years from 1980-2012.

Cal Shocks BYU | 2016 Final Recap

Cal Shocks BYU | 2016 Final Recap

by Brett Anker

Cal defeated BYU 40-29 in the final of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup to claim its first ever Varsity Cup title. After falling in the last three Varsity Cup finals to the Cougars, Cal overcame some tremendous obstacles to capture the title. The Golden Bears shattered BYU’s two year unbeaten streak and even more impressive, went in to Provo Utah and one on South Field, a place where BYU had never lost.

BYU got a perfect bounce on a short kickoff and nearly broke through in the opening seconds. The Cougars immediately got in the 22-meter line but Cal withstood the pressure and kicked out of trouble after a knock.

After several penalties sending possession back and forth, Cal nearly struck first. The Golden Bears stole the ball at the breakdown inside the BYU 22 and send it wide through the hands. Patrick Barrientes busted through a half gap but was brought down three feet from the line. Barrientes got to his feet but was held in the tackle and a penalty was awarded to the Cougars.

The home side faced some adversity early, losing captain Ara Elkington to a bloody eye and winger Kevin Schoefield to a head injury. Adding to the injury issues, BYU failed to reach touch on several penalties, giving Cal ample attacking opportunities. One of those penalties finally cost BYU. Scott Walsh picked up an unpressured knock and was taken down inside the 22. Cal sprung the ball left and outnumbered the BYU defense for a Lucas Dunne score. The conversion was missed and Cal led 5-0.

BYU continued to struggle with continuity but ultimately broke through 20 minutes in. Alex Vorster fended off a Cal tackler. He drew the fullback and offloaded to an oncoming Zach Weber for a try under the posts. Calvin Whiting nailed the kick to give BYU a 7-5 lead.

The Cougars started firing and got another try a few minutes later. Scrumhalf Luke Mocke backed himself with a dummy to gain a few meters. With a pair of tacklers on him, the South African popped a pass to number 8 Joe Pikula. The monster backrower busted through the line and off loaded to the recently returned Elkington for a 14-5 lead.

Cal stymied the BYU momentum at the 30-minute mark. Anthony Salabar broke a few tackles to get deep inside the BYU 22. Scrumhalf Nickolas Boyer picked and nearly found the edge, but with hands on him, popped the ball back inside to cutting winger Zachary Tavenner. The winger went in untouched to make the game 14-12.

The next scoring opportunity came when Vorster ran over a Cal player off a lineout. The ball went through hands but Cal’s Connor Sweet intercepted a pass near the goal line to save a try. The Cougars stayed inside Cal territory but a number of knock-ons prevented the Cougars from extending the lead. The game went into the break 14-12 in favor of BYU.

After several kicks exchanging possession to start the second half, BYU looked to be in trouble inside its own 22. The ball was bouncing around but Whiting scooped it up, overpowered a defender and busted through the Cal line to midfield. A high tackle penalty gave Whiting a chance at goal but the kicked missed left.

BYU struck first in the second minutes later, however. Off a scrum the Cougars broke through out wide and offloaded inside to Ryan Blaser. Blaser pushed his way over in the corner to extend the lead to 21-12.

The Cougars extended their lead minutes later. After a knock-on at the goal line prevented a try, Whiting added a penalty to increase the lead to 24-12.

Cal would not go away, however. Dunne found space out wide and after being tackled, BYU was pinged for a penalty. Boyer quick tapped and found Andrew Bush who broke a tackle and scored a try. Boyer missed the conversion and it was 24-19.

Turnovers hurt the Golden Bears minutes later. Cal coughed the ball up and the Cougars quickly spun the ball wide right. Fullback Tua Laei found spacer out wide and sprinted his way to the pylon for a 29-19 lead.

Cal misfired on several opportunities to score in the following minutes. Flyhalf Russell Webb missed a clear break with a poor pass and Boyer missed a penalty that would have cut it to a one score game.

The Bears finally broke though the 70th minute. Jake Goena nearly scored off a line out but was taken down just short. Cal recycled and spun the ball left to Anthony Salabar. BYU ran out of defenders and the big center walked in for the score. Russell Webb tallied the kick to cut the game to 29-26 with 10 minutes to play.

The boys from Berkeley took the lead nearly a minute later. Getting deep in BYU territory off a penalty, the Bears drover a maul near the goal line. Boyer picked off the back of the ruck and scored untouched to take a 33-29 lead.

The Golden Bears sealed the game with less than five minutes to play. Off a lineout once again, the visitors powered over the line via a maul with Boyer getting his second of the day.

Cal dominated BYU in the line out and that was really the difference in the second half. Overall, Cal capitalized on a number of BYU errors and dominated the final quarter of the game to capture its first Penn Mutual Varsity Cup title.

BYU vs. Cal | 2016 Championship Preview

BYU vs. Cal | 2016 Championship Preview

by Brett Anker

Cal and BYU will square off in the final of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup on Saturday at South Field on the Campus of BYU. The game will be aired live on the NBCSN at 4PM EST.

BYU and Cal have been the gold standard of collegiate rugby for several decades. The Cougars and the Bears had met in the post season twelve times before this encounter with 10 coming in national title bouts. The Bears have gotten the better of BYU historically, but the recent years have gone the way of the Cougar.

The Cougars and the Golden Bears have met in the finals of first three Varsity Cups with BYU slaying the Bears in all three contests. In the inaugural Varsity Cup, Cal battled back from a two score deficit only to lose to a drop goal from then freshman Johnny Linehan. Two years ago the Cougars dropped the Bears 43-33 and last year they edged the California school 30-27 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The teams have faced a number of common opponents including, Army, Central Washington, Utah, Air Force, St. Mary’s and Arizona State. Both teams went undefeated against the common opponents but BYU had far more convincing victories against a number of them.

Cal understands the challenge ahead of them. It will be more difficult this year as the game returns to the BYU campus. The Cougars have never lost a game at South Field. With a talented and mature team, BYU will be the stiffest challenge of the year for Cal.

I imagine we will see a similar lineup to the one they used in the semi,” Clark said of BYU. “It is a very experienced team, well beyond normal university age. They will field a half-dozen or more players who graduated high school in 2009, a few more 2010 grads and at least one player who is a 2008 high school graduate. It is nothing new to us or any of the other teams in the competition. It is what comes with playing BYU.”

Cal will be without fullback Harry Adolphus, who was lost to injury in the quarterfinal matchup with Army. However, the Golden Bears have a lot of depth and with a strong pack, led by Scott Walsh and George Vrame up front, have the size and athleticism to match up with a strong BYU pack.

After winning the last three Varsity Cups, BYU is gunning for another victory. The Cougars have been firing on all cylinders and may have the best team they have had in years.

“This team this year is probably the most cohesive team we have had for as long as I have been here,” said assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti. “The guys are just enjoying their rugby, enjoying each other’s company and having a lot of fun.”

The Cougars will look to continue their unbeaten streak that dates back to the spring of 2014. Playing at front of a home crowd adds a little excitement and motivation for the Utah school.

“It is a privilege to have it on campus. The crowd we have had for the last six years playing there has been our 16th man. They come out and support us and we are blessed to have it back home. We see it as a nice to have but never a guarantee,” Tarawhiti said of the home field advantage.

Despite playing at home, BYU is well aware of the rich tradition and history of Cal. The Cougars have spent the last two weeks gearing up for their toughest game of the year.

“We always have a genuine mutual respect for Cal. Those guys have been the benchmark of rugby for a number of years. We always look forward to playing them. We tend to play our best rugby when we play against them and are looking forward to that challenge again,” Tarawhiti added.

BYU Powers Past Arkansas State

BYU Powers Past Arkansas State

by Brett Anker
Photo Credit: Davey Wilson

BYU dominated Arkansas State 68-20 in route to its fourth consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final. The Cougars pulled away in the late stage of the first half and the early part of the second to win comfortably.

The Whippy brothers accounted for the first 17 points for the Cougars. In the sixth minute, Joshua Whippy intercepted a pass from his outside center position to walk in for the score. His brother and flyhalf, Jared slotted the conversion to take a 7-0 lead. 10 minutes later, the duo combined to double up the lead for BYU. Off a scrum, the Josh ran an inside line off his brother and weaved through the confused Red Wolves defense for 14-0 lead.

“They have been playing rugby all their lives. When it goes well it goes well,” BYU Assistant Coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of the Fijan born twins. “Both those guys appreciate each other’s skills and we allow for them to sort of go for it as well.”

ASU struck back off some excellent phase play. Tabo Maree ended up breaking through the line and dove over to cut the deficit to nine. Jared Whippy got BYU back in score sheet with a penalty but Zin Zan Elan-Puttick added one of his own to keep Arkansas State within range at 17-8.

By the 35th minute however, BYU began to take over the game. Zane Mendenhall and Josh Anderson scored tries before the break, giving the Cougars a 27-8 halftime lead. The home side continued the onslaught in the first 15 minutes of the second half. The Cougars scored in the 42nd minute and Anderson added his second of the match minutes later to extend the lead to 37-8. Matt Jensen then added two more in the span of four minutes to give BYU a 51-8 lead. In total, the explosive BYU attack netted six tries in less than a 20-minute span to blow the game wide open.

“We tried hard to correct some stuff that happened last year. Last year there was a time where we would get out rather quickly but then we sort of would fall asleep,” said Tarawhiti. “This year we concentrated a lot on trying to put teams away.”

The Red Wolves responded with a try from Elan-Puttick but the Cougars would add three more scores before ASU finished off the game with a final score. Anderson tallied his third while Tua Laei and Luke Mocke both made their way into the score sheet.

“Yesterday was a good game for us. We played some pretty expansive rugby. We have been training to get where we peak at the right time. Yesterday was an example of that. We allowed the boys to play a pretty expansive game of rugby and allowed them to play what’s in front of them. Yesterday was a combination of all of that and we did really well,” Tarawhiti said.

BYU will host Cal in the Varsity Cup final on May 7th. The game will be broadcast live on the NBCSN at 2PM MST/4PM EST.

Cal Squeaks By Central Washington in Defensive Tussle

Cal Squeaks By Central Washington in Defensive Tussle

By Brett Anker
Photo Credit: Mikaela Raphael

With a Central Washington penalty hooking left as time expired, Cal advanced to its 4th consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final. The Golden Bears tallied two tries in the first half and with stout defense held on to win 14-13 in Strawberry Canyon.

Both squads had opportunities early inside the opposition five-meter lines but strong defense held them both off the score sheet. The excellent defense and a strong wind hampered both teams’ offensive capabilities all afternoon.

After Russell Webb missed a penalty inside the first 10 minutes, CWU fullback Ian Wright scampered in for the games opening score. Tanner Barnes made a line break and found the fullback with an offload. With the conversion, the Wildcats led 7-0 and took that lead deep into the first half.

“Tanner had a phenomenal day, and it was no doubt that he was the best player on the field,” CWU coach Tony Pacheco said. “He broke the line, drew the fullback and Ian followed right behind. It was a great way to start the match.”

Cal responded with 14 unanswered points late in the first half. The Golden Bears scored all of its points in a four-minute span with Patrick Barrientes and Russell Webb dotting down to take the lead. Webb converted both tries to give Cal a 14-7 advantage.

CWU looked to get even in the 36th minute but Clint Lemkus was held up in the in goal. On the following five-meter scrum, Cal prevented a score but committed a penalty nearly 40 meters out. The Wildcats missed the kick and Cal maintained the 14-7 advantage going into the break.

Neither team gave much in the second half. The only points either team was able to muster was a couple of penalties for Central Washington. The win played a factor in the second half, particularly with attempts at goal. Webb, who went 0-3 on penalties, missed early in the second half before Reuben Ludick nailed his first of the afternoon to cut the lead to 14-10.

“We didn’t capitalize on some of the things we had early on in the game,” said Cal back-rower Thomas Robles. “Lucky to come away with the win but, on that same page, we also put in a lot of effort and stood by each other.”

Webb mishit an attempt at goal two minutes later and until about 20 minutes left the game remained the same score. Ludick drilled a second penalty to make it a one-point contest with about 18 minutes left.

It became an uphill battle for the visitors inside the last quarter of the game as the Wildcats saw a player sent to the sin bin for a late hit. The Wildcats played tough despite being down a man, and in side the final five minutes looked to have gotten the game winning score. Aladdin Schirmer picked at the back of a 5-meter scrum and powered his way in but the Wildcats were pinged for a penalty. With less than five minutes to play Cal still led 14-13.

The Wildcats continued to fight, earning another penalty in the 76th minute. Ludick missed short and Webb cleared the ball. After stealing the ensuing lineout, Cal worked its way into the CWU 22. A not straight throw on a lineout, however, gave the visitors one last chance to steal the victory. Central Washington worked its way down field and the referee awarded a penalty for hands in at the ruck, Ludick lined up the kick but it hooked left and Cal came away with the victory.

“It’s such a great honor to play on this field, and to come out with a big win under a lot of pressure means the world,” added prop Scott Walsh. “It gives us a chance at the national championship.”

For Central Washington, who lost to Cal by a hefty margin two years ago in the same circumstances, it was an improved by disappointing result.

“I am really proud of how our team played, we did everything we could to win the game,” Pacheco added. “I felt like we were the better team out there today, unfortunately, things did not go our way.”

Cal will make its fourth straight appearance in the Varsity Cup final. The Golden Bears will travel to South Field on the campus of BYU to take on the undefeated Cougars.

The match will take place on May 7th and will be aired live on the NBCSN at 2PM MST/4PM EST.

2016 Semi-Final Match Schedule | April 23rd

2016 Semi-Final Match Schedule | April 23rd

VARSITY CUP SEMI-FINAL MATCH SCHEDULE | APRIL 23RD:

The Varsity Cup Semi-Finals see Arkansas State heading to reigning champs BYU, and Cal will play host to CWU. Who will advance to earn a spot in this year’s national championship?

See the below for more information on the where and when the matches are being held and how you can watch remotely:

BYU vs. Arkansas State

– Location: South Field, BYU Campus, Provo, UT 84606
– Time: 1:00 PM MDT
– Webcast: Live on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02Z31r75T5w)

Cal vs. CWU

– Location: Witter Rugby Field, 210 Stadium Rim Way, Berkeley, CA 94704
– Time: 1:00 PM PDT

Cal vs. CWU | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

Cal vs. CWU | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

by Brett Anker

Cal will welcome Central Washington to Strawberry Canyon for the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. The Bears and the Wildcats met on Witter field for the same game in 2014 with Cal coming away with a 58-14 victory.

The Golden Bears overwhelmed Central Washington in 2014. Cal scored four tries in the first 20 minutes before Central Washington responded. The big lead was too much to overcome for CWU and Cal ran away with a 58-14 win.

“We are a far different team from that team. That team hadn’t really been battle tested. They didn’t play that tough of a schedule….To have those tough games to really let us know where we are, we are able to build of that and peak at the right time,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco.

Discipline will be key for Central Washington. The Wildcats have started both Varsity Cup games with high penalty counts. After having three players in the sin bin simultaneously last week, the Wildcats will need to clean up their act. While Central Washington managed to hold Utah at bay with 12 men, Cal will be a much more difficult team to contain.

“How they choose to play is between them and the referee. My responsibility is to our team and how we conduct ourselves. Our focus needs to be on keeping our discipline and not getting drawn into foul play,” said Cal coach Jack Clark.

Central Washington has made the semifinals in each of the last three Varsity Cups. The Wildcats are hoping that this is the year they finally break through.

“We are excited to go to Cal and excited for the opportunity and for the guys that were on that team a few years ago,” Pacheco said of playing Cal. “There is definitely some redemption there in the back of our minds because we were not very happy with how we played.”

The Pacific Northwest school has deep and talented team this season. A pair of South Africans, Clint Lemkus and Darren Cooper, are recent additions to an already strong pack. Aladdin Schirmer and Vili Toluta’u are two of the better loose forwards in the country and could provide a challenge for Cal.

“They are real strong. They got some big, strong South African kids who are really good. They are a good team. They have been a good team. They have made it to the semis every year of the Varsity Cup and it is no surprise to anyone that they are in the semis again,” Clark said of CWU.

Cal will make a number of changes from the win over Army last weekend. Harry Adolphus, who had two tries as a sophomore against CWU, sustained an injury last week and will be out of action. While Adolphus is out, the Bears get two players back from injury. Patrick Barientes and Jake Goena will make there way back into the back line. Additionally, upperclassmen Connor Sweet, Drew Gaffney and Nick Salabar will make Cal a more experienced side this weekend.

The match with Army was a bit of a wake up call for Cal. The Golden Bears know they will have to improve to get the job done again this week.

“We are just going to have continue to get better throughout this week. Keep grinding,” match day captain Scott Walsh said after the Army win. “They are big, very skilled team. We played them before they have given us some good action before.”

The game will kickoff at 1PM PST.

BYU vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

BYU vs. Arkansas State | 2016 Semi-Final Preview

by Brett Anker

BYU will meet Arkansas State in the semifinals of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup this weekend in Provo, Utah. The Cougars last met the Red Wolves in the 2012 Division One National Championship. The Cougars won a thrilling 49-42 match in their first of four consecutive national championships.

“The last time we played Arkansas State was in the national championship in 2012. They were a great opponent then and I can’t see them not being just as good. They have some good fundamentals and are a well coached team,” assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of Arkansas State.

BYU improved to 21-0 after handily defeating Dartmouth last weekend. The Cougars have scored in droves all season. The forward pack is extremely experienced and the back line incredibly explosive.

“Our team has continued to work hard carrying the momentum from the regular season to the playoffs this year,” said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth of BYU’s performance this season. “We need to continue to stay disciplined all 80-minutes of the game and keep up our intensity. Arkansas State will play their best and will bring it on Saturday.”

Arkansas State has used this week to mend sore bodies and prepare for another week of tough travel. The Red Wolves logged a lot of miles traveling to Navy last weekend and will have another long trip to Utah for Saturday’s match.

“It is going to take a lot of preparation. Starting right now. Getting all the knocks and bruises is first things first and mentally preparing as we travel home,” Arkansas State coach Shaun Potgeiter said after the win over Navy.

The Red Wolves realize they may need to open it up this weekend. With a potent BYU attack playing in front of a home crowd, Potgeiter expects a high scoring match.

“I think it is going to be a try fest. We are going to expect to be scored on. It is BYU. They can attack as is. On our end we are pretty lethal on attack as well. I think it is going to be an exciting game,” Potgeiter said.

The match kicks off 1PM MST.

BYU Too Much For Dartmouth

BYU Too Much For Dartmouth

by Brett Anker

BYU dominated Dartmouth 75-15 in to cruise into the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup semifinals. A strong start and a patient attack propelled the Cougars to a convincing victory.

The Cougars scored five tries in the first 20 minutes, never giving the Big Green an opportunity to get into the game. Kevin Schofield scored twice in the first five minutes to give the Cougars a 10-0 lead. Tua Laei, Josh Anderson and Jared Whippy added tries before the 20-minute mark to take a 27-0 lead.

“We knew that we had to come out really quick. We changed our pregame up a little bit just so the boys can get their legs underneath them from the plane ride but the goal was to get out of the gates as quickly as possible. That’s what they were able to do,” said BYU assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti.

Dartmouth settled down after poor start to hold BYU scoreless for the next 15 minutes. Laei added his second score before halftime but the Big Green managed to put one in itself before the break. Will Konstant intercepted a pass and took it the distance for a 34-7 halftime score.

The Big Green managed to get the first score of the second half via a penalty but wouldn’t manage any more points until a consolation try at the death. In between, BYU added six more scores with Laei nabbing the hat trick and both Whippy and Anderson getting a brace.

“Dartmouth were very quick over the ball. They were smaller than us physically. The score was a little inflated because competition was tough. They were quick to get over the ball and they made us work hard,” added Tarawhiti. “We were patient enough to know that if we could turn it up the middle first we could try and find ourselves space out wide.”

Overall, the BYU coaching staff was satisfied with the performance and is excited to host Arkansas State next weekend.

“Happy with the boys performance but we have been saying this all year, the only thing we can do is try and get up and play the next week, and we are fortunate enough to play a game next week,” Tarawhiti concluded.

Arkansas State Holds Off Navy

Arkansas State Holds Off Navy

by Brett Anker

Arkansas State withstood a late second half surge from Navy to punch its first ever ticket to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup quarterfinals. Despite a valiant comeback attempt, Navy will miss out on its first Varsity Cup quarterfinal in four years.

The Red wolves could not have gotten off to a better start on the road. Prop Kuda Makuvire dotted down twice in the first 15 minutes for a 14-0 lead. Zac Young broke through the Navy line for third score and a penalty from Zinzan Elan-Puttick extended the lead to 24-0 in the 35th minute.

“We came out firing in the first half. Moved the ball around well. Defended well. We did prepare all week for Navy’s attack so things worked out pretty well in the first half,” said ASU coach Shaun Potgeiter.

Navy finally got on the board in the forty-minute mark. After Arkansas State had a player sent to the sin bin, the Midshipmen spent five minutes inside the ASU five-meter line. After several penalties, Ben Johnston punched it in. With the conversion, it was 24-7 going into the break.

Navy looked to continue the momentum from the end of the first half. Despite being down a man, however, Young scored his second of the day for the Red Wolves and extended the lead to 31-7. It appeared that this score would end the hopes of a Navy comeback.

The Midshipmen refused to give in, however, and started mounting a comeback The Navy work rate and fitness paid dividends later in the second half, starting with a try from scrumhalf Gardy Lebon. Minutes later, the Academy found the try zone again. Jake Martin got Navy’s third of the half and with about 10 minutes to play off a loose ball and with 10 minutes to play it was a one score game.

“We expected them to come out in the second half firing. Just try to come back and get themselves back into the game, which they did,” Potgeiter said of the Navy comeback.

“It speaks to who we are. It is the Naval academy. A bunch of young men just filled with character. We were not happy with our first half performance and that the score line was against us and we had to come out and make some changes,” Navy coach Mike Flanagan said of his team.

Despite the comeback from Navy, Arkansas State managed to weather the storm for the remainder of the game. Navy was pressing inside ASU territory in the waning moments but a knock-on ended the possession and the game.

“The guys really showed guts to hold them out of the try zone at the end,” Potgeiter concluded.

Arkansas State will take on BYU in the semifinals next weekend.