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Arkansas State Upsets Life In Jonesboro

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Arkansas State Upsets Life In Jonesboro

Rich Carvell photo

Arkansas State threw the Mid-South and D1A as a whole into some confusion with a 29-22 defeat of #1-ranked Life University.

The game was the Curt Huckaby Cup, played in honor of the man who founded the Arkansas State program and was a huge friend to rugby in the South.

The two-time defending champion Life Running Eagles looked a little off the pace in sloppy conditions in Jonesboro, Ark. Certainly they seemed to miss the vision and discipline of former captain Mitch Wilson in the backline. 

Life did appear ready to open the scoring 11 minutes in but what looked to be a try was called back for a forward pass. ASU held on for a time and then forced a turnover and kicked downfield. The return kick didn’t help Life much and the Red Wolves pressure put the Running Eagles on the back foot. Then they got a penalty and it was a simple case of kick to the corner, lineout, maul, and try to put ASU up 5-0.

Right from the restart Life was penalized, but ASU missed touch on the kick and the Running Eagles countered. Some some good interplay put wing Darell Williams over. Matt Mairowitz converted and it was 7-5 for Life.

Powerful running from ASU and some slick ballhandling, especially from center Daniel Raath got them close and then the Red Wolves pounded it over. 

Down 12-7, Life replied with about ten minutes to go in the first half. A long period of phases didn’t seem to be going anywhere, but eventually a space opened up and center Connor Mooneyham blasted through.

With the game tied 12-12, ASU pressured again. Tempers flared as the half came to a close, and while everything eventually settled down, Arkansas State got a penalty right in front of the posts. They opted for the scrum, drove over, and the referee called a penalty try for repeated red zone infringements, and the half ended with the Red Wolves up 19-12.

That was a key moment. In other years, Life would have held their line better. This time, they let in a crucial try, and then, as the second half began, got in rouble again.

Right from the kickoff ASU got a penalty, took the lineout and after a long maul they went wide. A nice flat pass from Raath to center Jason Scheepers put the big back in under the posts untouched.

26-12 Arkansas State.

The game became a bit of a slog after that. Arkansas State’s lineout, maul, and scrum were better than Life’s, and they defended well in the mud. Life looked slow, and tired, and it just took them way too long to gain territory. Eventually, they bashed one over, but time wasn’t their friend.

With the game winding down, Arkansas State got a penalty, and opted for the kick at goal to finish it off 29-22.

“This was a great win for the Red Wolves,” said A-State Head Coach Blake White. “The last time we won over Life was 2012. We had to play hard for each other and not let them get momentum that you knew was coming. Life has an outstanding team, top notch coaching and more than that is a total class act. Our guys played as a team and left it all out there today.”

This was a good result for ASU after a competitive loss to Lindenwood a week ago. Life drops to 1-1 in the Mid-South and will likely lose their #1 ranking next week. Arkansas State goes to 1-0 (last week’s Lindenwood game was not a conference game).

See the entire game here (if you don't see the embedded video, refresh the page).