LSU RECAP: ARIZONA EARNS STRIPES IN FIRST ROUND PLAYOFF WIN
#12 Arizona 30
#14 LSU 10
Captain Cesar Davila and his deputy Kyle Rogers have led the Wildcats to a national quarterfinal matchup next week against Utah.
April 19- The 12th-ranked Arizona Wildcats traveled across the country this past weekend to battle against 14th-ranked LSU in the D1A playoff debut for both teams. As the Red River Conference champions, the Tigers were granted a home playoff match with a spot in the national quarterfinal on the line in the Bayou.
In the opening twenty minutes, both teams traded heavy blows with strong tackling and sloppy footing leading to a tight first half. Wing Adam Wilson '19 got the scoring started for Arizona with a 19th minute penalty to tie the game at 3 before Wing Nick Alfaro '18 entered the game as a replacement and energized the team with a strong run which led to Arizona possession deep in Tiger territory. Prop Dacoda Worth '18 was the beneficiary, scoring a try in his first career start to make it 8-3 Wildcats heading in to the half. "That was a significant momentum swing brought on by Nick Alfaro's effort, and it set the tone for the second half" said Head Coach Sean Duffy.
That tone in the second half was felt early, as a renewed energy level from the Wildcats led to great defensive pressure and a few attacking opportunities that began to open up. Flyhalf Kyle Rogers '18 was instrumental to the attack, and the young backrow of Ian Crilly '19, Ryan Fitzpatrick '19, and Tyler Hansen '19 began to take control in the breakdowns for the Wildcats. The consistent pressure began to pay off in the 46th minute, as Hansen scored from an Arizona scrum to make it 15-3 following a Wilson conversion. Wing Ben Joseph '18 scored a try six minutes later and subsequent conversion stretched the margin to 22-3 with less than 30 minutes to go. A Wilson penalty and a try by LSU would make it 25-3 in the closing minutes before a beautiful stretch of phase play by the Wildcats led to a Bryce Mantell '17 try in the corner in the 80th minute, sealing the game and a trip to Utah for Arizona.
The win, coupled with the performances of a number of players, was an exciting development in a tough road match. "This was a key win for us as playoff rugby is a whole level up, and to go into the swamp and come out with a win is something that we'll look back on as key for this group's growth. We're a very different team in a number of ways from the one that started the season in January, and when you get into the big dance and get some momentum going, who knows what can happen." said Coach Duffy.
The Wildcats will travel to Utah for the national quarterfinal this weekend, with the winner advancing to the final four.
Tries: Worth, Hansen, Joseph, Mantell
Conversions: Wilson- 2/4
Penalties: Wilson- 1/1