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Western Washington, Fresno Cruise to ACR DIAA Semis

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Western Washington, Fresno Cruise to ACR DIAA Semis

Fresno State keeps winning.

Western Washington defeated Sacramento State 38-14 to move to the national ACR Spring DIAA semifinal Sunday.

Hosting the four-team Western Bracket, WWU had its hands full with Sac State, and it took about 30 minutes for the Vikings to get going. Up 3-0 WWU got their first try after a long period of pressure and center Kyle Peter cutting through the middle. Scrumhalf Max Stone converted. 

Western came back with more, powering down close to the line, thanks in part to the work of prop Hayden Hester, before Stone picked up and sniped in. The scrumhalf converted and it was 17-0.

That was it for the first half but early in the second half No. 8 Desmond Maiava sidestepped and powered his way through the Hornets’ defense for a try. A big run from center Jacob Keasler produced another, and with Stone converting it was 31-0.

Sacramento State had expended a lot of energy defending and they’d been successful until late in the first half. But Western Washington had finally broken through.

Still the Hornets fought on, and a good series of vertical runs and quick ball saw wing Amira Frazier over for his side’s first try. After that a long run from center George Fountain put WWU on notice that they better stay switched on. It was now 31-14.

But Western capped it off with a cutback from from Nathan Mathis to make it 38-14.

That booked Western in the Sunday game and a shot at joining Kansas at the ACR final in Dallas.

See full game here>>

Joining Western Washington in the Sunday semifinal was Fresno State, after the Bulldogs defeated San Diego.

Fresno State has pace but the key for them was getting support to the breakdown. With good clearouts they were able to get ball out of the rucks quickly and continually put pressure on the Toreros. 

USD found themselves scrambling on defense early, and thus committing penalties. and repeated penalties, especially not retreating 10 meters, saw flanker Joseph Shenton sin-binned. Fresno State punished USD for that and center Joshua Rodriguez cruised over.

Speed to the ball forced a holding-on penalty in USD’s 22 and Fresno State attacked wide right and then wide left, with wing Nathan Eldridge finishing it off.

San Diego did have opportunities but execution on the lineout was a problem. And Fresno State was all too happy to counter quickly.

Penalties didn’t help either as San Diego ended up with three yellow cards through the first half. Their third led to another tap penalty move and center Roberto Medina was over. Isaiah Hunter slotted the conversion to make it 17-0.

Even when things went right for San Diego, like a turnover in their 22, they then gave up possession. Hunter turned that play around the got his side close. The forwards finished it off.

Just before halftime, Joshua Jacobsen torched San Diego for a 50-meter run, and Hunter’s kick rounded off the first period 29-0.

San Diego spent the first eight minutes right on Fresno’s doorstep, but they couldn’t make that final crucial pass and eventually Fresno State forced a holding-on penalty under their posts.

The Toreros kept up the pressure and got to the tryline again, only to be held up. 

And finally, after 12 minutes of hard work, San Diego got their try. Fresno State managed to steal a lineout through and decided to pass it out. Center Paul Habeeb jumped in the way and intercepted the pass and just needed to step over the line. Flyhalf Jordan Sandoval converted and it was 29-7.

San Diego had shown they could put Fresno State under pressure.

Fewer penalties and yellow cards gave San Diego the opportunity to control the run of play for much of the second half, but Fresno defended well. 

And when they had a shot, Fresno State could still score. Some quick ball movement allowed for a break from No. 8 Lawrence Mata, and then he popped a pass to Hunter for the try in the corner. That made it 34-7 for Fresno State. 

The Bulldogs were quickly back in USD territory and a shot pass off to lock Travis Hansen put him over. On that sequence San Diego got yet another yellow card. Hunter converted to make it 41-7 and Fresno State finished off the day’s effort with a pickup by Mata and a 70-meter jaunt. 46-7 for Fresno State, and far, far too many penalties for San Diego.

See full game here>>