JONESBORO, Ark. — Arkansas State came from behind and survived an intense finish to defeat the top-ranked team in the country, Life University, 28-22, in men's rugby Saturday afternoon at the ASU Rugby Field.
"I'm really proud of this team, especially in the second half," said first-year head coach Alex Houser. "We were behind most of the time and it would have been easy to just hang our heads. But they didn't do that. They fought back hard and won. It was a big game for us."
Houser pointed out that the Red Wolves, the second-ranked team in the nation, were excited before the match about playing Life. It marked the first time the two programs have met since ASU defeated Life for the national championship in collegiate 7s back in December. A loud crowd of close to a thousand were in attendance Saturday to cheer on the Red Wolves.
Despite sunny weather, both teams had to figure the wind into their plans. ASU tallied the first points of the match behind a try from lock Robert Hayslip, a 6-3, 225-pound senior from Columbia, S.C. But, the lead was short-lived as the Running Eagles quickly scored eight to go ahead of ASU, 8-5. The visitors were able to take an 11-5 edge at the midway point.
The second half proved to be successful for Arkansas State with scoring from two-time All-American Pat Sullivan on a try, two conversions and three penalties. Following a Life lead at 22-20, Sullivan came back to score and give ASU the 23-22 edge. And, around the five-minute mark remaining in the battle, sophomore wing Dale Bates scored to give the Red Wolves the final 28-22 victory.
ASU rugby will back in action March 16 against league opponent Davenport. The match gets underway at 1 p.m. at the ASU Rugby Field.