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Friday Night Playoff Time for Sac State and UCSC

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Friday Night Playoff Time for Sac State and UCSC

Sacramento State will have to ramp up their D to unseat UCSC. David Barpal photo.

Sacramento State will take on UC Santa Cruz Friday night to decide who joins Fresno State in Sunday's Pacific Western championship match.

Fresno State will get a bye to the final because the 4th-place team, Chico State, is unable to make the trip to Fresno. 

For Sac State and UCSC there's more at stake than just a place in the final. The winner of Friday night's clash will also get a spot in the Western Bracket of the DIAA spring playoffs. During the regular season UCSC lost just the one game, to Fresno State. Led by nine tries from No. 8 Jackson Zabierek and six from loosehead prop Iloilo Amataga, the Banana Slugs also benefited from some consistent goalkicking from center Tiego Logan.

Sac State's scoring chanse was led by flyhalf George Fountain and wing Amir Frazier, with fullback Kellan Fisch providing the boot.

The two teams met during the regular season on February 19. UCSC won 34-15 in what was Fisch's least successful game kicking for goal—no penalties or conversions for the Hornets. Frazier scored two tries in that game for Sac State, with his second at 50 minutes making it 13-10 UCSC. But three Slug tries in the final 15 minutes—Zabierek, Logan, and scrumhalf Martin Gutierrez—put the game away for Santa Cruz. Logan scored 19 in that game.

Both teams play solid defense and have had to battle through some close games. UCSC last two league games were both decided by a try, and it was the same story for Sac State in their final league game. It was that game, a 22-18 nailbiter over Chico State, that put them in this playoff situation. The Hornets had to defense almost the entire second half of that game, but patiently and doggedly held onto that lead.  

The upshot, then, is that both teams know how to fight for it, and both teams have experience doing exactly that. The other upshot? The winner will have to face a Fresno State team that has topped 50 points in every league game they've played this year.