(Jonesboro, AK) Fullback Joe Cowley notched a last-minute penalty kick to cap a narrow 17-13 victory, as #3 Life rallied to edge #4 Arkansas State for first place in the DI-A Mid-South.
ASU dominated the first half with aggressive, consistent play from their forwards. Life suffered from a diminished lineout, as All-American no. 8 Cam Dolan was injured in practice and lock Paul Bester had to be subbed out just minutes in. Deep in the visitors' half, the Red Wolves seized a set piece from the Eagles and spun the ball wide to flyhalf Pat Sullivan for seven points. Life incurred numerous penalties, leading to another kick on goal from Sullivan. ASU won consistently at the breakdown and the set piece, entering halftime with a 10-0 lead.
The Red Wolves buffered their lead with another penalty from Sullivan in the 53rd minute. But Life was resurgent in the second half, taking advantage of ASU's weary pack to set up tries for center Darrian Woodson and Calvin Nell. Joe Cowley slotted both conversions to give the Running Eagles their first lead at 14-13. With twenty minutes to go, Life kept ball in hand to hold the Red Wolves from scoring again - as time expired, Cowley booted a final penalty to give the Running Eagles a 17-13 win.
Five weeks prior, Life (8-0 Mid-South) had defeated ASU (5-2 Mid-South) 30-14 at home. The two teams enter the playoffs as the #1 and #2 conference seeds, respectively. On May 5th, the Running Eagles host #7 Penn State (5-1 East) in the DI-A quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Arkansas State travels to West Point to take on #6 Army (6-0 East.)
Life Running Eagles
Tries: Darrian Woodson, Calvin Nell
Conversions: Joe Cowley (2)
Penalty goal: Joe Cowley
Joe Cowley, Kyle Grossheider (Taku Tela), Darrian Woodson, Colton Cariaga, Calvin Nell; Jake McFadden, Cornelius Dirksen; OJ Auimatagi, Glen Maricelli, Zach Walker (Mike Mastermaker), Tyler Salamon, Paul Bester (Mark Humphries, Drew Ohmann), Paris Hollis, Andrew McNeil, Jimmy Lynch.
Reserves: Mike Sapp, Zach Miller, Vershawn Burke.
Arkansas State Red Wolves
Try: Pat Sullivan
Conversion: Pat Sullivan
Penalty goal: Pat Sullivan (2)
Danie Swanepoel, Trey Cobble, Zac Mizell, Dean Gericke, James Ritenour; Pat Sullivan (Dylan Carrion, Sullivan), Yoshiyasu Abe; Jake Mizell (Tom Haussrer), Nardus Wessels, Nick Wayne Thompson, Rob Hayslip (Alex Goff), Connor Cook, Shaun Paterson (JC Le Fleur), Paul Steyn Benade, Shaun Potgieter.
Referee: Gareth Morgan (Southeast, USA Rugby)