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Fresno State Puts Hand Up In Pac West

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Fresno State Puts Hand Up In Pac West

Isaiah Kruse takes off on attack for Fresno State. Alex Ho photography.

Fresno State's defeat of Chico State was a bit of a shock and raised plenty of questions in the Pacific Western Conference, but maybe the answer to those questions is simply that Fresno State is a pretty good rugby team.

"We feel pretty good," said Fresno State Head Coach Patrick Quan. "We have a few players who are local high school products, but since the vast majority of Fresno State students come from the local area, we have to recruit new athletes to the sport. We've been fortunate to get some good athletes who have learned quickly."

Working with many inexperienced players, Quan has emphasized the basics, and it was the basics that defeated Chico State.

"We have good runners, so just run good, straight lines," he said. "Chico State is a good team and put us under pressure. But we felt the best way to meet tat pressure was to take them on."

Chico State took an early lead thanks to an Anton Holm penalty goal. Wing Joshua Jacobsen raced in for a try for Fresno State, converted by flyhalf Isaiah Kruse, but Chico rebounded with a converted try from lock Brandon Roscoe, and then a penalty try when a CSU player was going in to score and was tackled high.

So that made it 17-7 for CSU. After that, Fresno State's more basic approach told the tale.

Kruse, then wing Jaren Phillips, and then Jacobsen wnt over and in the space of 15 minutes the Bulldogs had turned the game around. Chico made it a two-point game at 26-24 when flanker Triston Haverty scored. But lock Lawence Mata iced it for Fresno after that. Fresno State 31 Chico State 24.

Jacobsen, who has been a try-scoring machine so far this season, notching seven in two games, has emerged as an impressive finisher, but really the attack starts and ends with Kruse.

"He is very, very good," said Quan. "He's our captain, our leader. Just about everything good that we do he has a hand in."

Elsewhere In The Pac West

The surprises weren't limited to Fresno State. Stanford, after being humbled by Fresno State last week, Stanford bounced back with a 29-24 defeat of Sacramento State. Lock Christian Bader's two early tries helped stake Stanford to a commanding 24-7 lead, but Sac State's late comeback almost hauled them in.

Samuel Curry, Stephen Palmieri, and Drake Merians also touched down for Stanford.

And UC Santa Cruz won comfortably over Nevada with former HS standout Kaden Loversky notching 13 points with a try and four conversions. 

So we're only two weeks into the season and only Fresno State hasn't lost a game. There's a chase for playoff spots, to be sure, but everyone is also chasing the Bulldogs.