Santa Barbara, CA (AmericanRugbyNews.com) - Matt Huckaby and the ASU Red Wolves are heading to the Big Four.
The Red Wolves rugby team held off a late rally from San Diego State to win 17-10 in the National Championship Tournament Quarterfinals in Santa Barbara, CA. It'll be the first time ASU heads to the Big Four as a Division 1 team.
It began as a intense struggle between ASU and SDSU and it remained so until the final whistle.
The Aztecs jumped out to an early 5-0 lead behind a Duncan Kelm try before ASU rattled off 17 unanswered points that in the end proved to be just enough to earn the Wolves their very first trip to the men's DI national semifinals.
As it was on Friday, Arkansas State's rock solid defense was one of the major factors in the final outcome.
San Diego State mounted a continuous 18-minute onslaught in the second half during which they were camped inside the ASU quarter and knocking on the door, yet despite throwing everything they could at the wall of defense in front of them, the Aztecs couldn't crack Arkansas State.
SDSU actually got over the line during that period but was held up.
It wasn't until ASU had a man binned that the Aztecs were finally able to get around on the outside to score through Alex Ross, however, by then the match had surged into the closing stages and time was running out for SDSU.
"We see ourselves as a defending side, we're willing to put our bodies on the line and I can't be more proud of my boys because that was character right there," Arkansas State captain Andries Wessels told ARN.
In the end it was three tries to two for ASU, who led 10-5 at the main break, with Blake White, Danie Swanepoel and Shaun Potieter scoring for ASU.
"Obviously we're stoked, we have a lot of work to do, but we're really excited," added a delighted Arkansas State head coach Matt Huckaby.
"We're going to try to climb into whoever we face coming up."
The competition gets even tougher at the Big Four. Arkansas State will play 24-time national champion California in the semifinals on April 30th.