UC Santa Barbara and San Diego State will take each other on in the National DI-AA college quarterfinals after both won their games Saturday, although in very different fashion.
Santa Barbara had a knock-down, drag-out fight with Oregon State, winning a game that saw several momentum changes, 37-27.
UCSB scored in the first three minutes, as John Gallo got a head start on what turned into a 22-point day. Gallo converted his own score, but OSU strengthened their defensive front from then on.
The Beavers were next to score, with prop Sean Clark touching down, and ten minutes later wing Ryne Haitsuka scored and fullback Carl Pizer’s conversion put OSU ahead 12-7.
The Gauchos replied through Cody McHargue (Gallo converting), but OSU ended the first half ahead 17-14 after Mitchell Fargher scored just before the break.
“We’re not used to giving up points,” said UCSB Head Coach Kevin Battle. “And Oregon State broke through our line repeatedly. They set us back a bit. We also needed to be more disciplined around the breakdown. I think 17 minutes into the game the penalty count was 7-0 against us.”
Once UCSB realized that the referee wasn’t going to change his calls, they settled down a little bit. OSU, also, isn’t used to giving up points, and both realized they would have to make their attacking opportunities count to win.
Fifteen minutes into the second half it looked as if OSU would run away with it. A Pizer penalty kick and, after another Gallo try for UCSB, a try from Colter Rodman, converted by Pizer, put the Beavers up 27-19.
But UCSB turned on the jets after that.
“Our fitness has been good all season and I think it showed in this game and was probably the difference,” said Battle.
Certainly it showed in the scoreline, as two tries and two penalties put the game away for UCSB in the final 20 minutes.
Santa Barbara plays San Diego State, who crushed a good Santa Clara side 59-14 Saturday.
The Aztecs scored in the first minute on an intercpetion, and Santa Clara scored three minutes after that. Both teams realized they were in a rugby game then and the defenses held until the 20th minute. San Diego State broke through and exploded after that for a 47-point run that put Santa Clara out of the running.
Flanker Mike Shea scored three tries for SD State and Kaleikaumaka Konrad kicked seven conversions and added a try for a personal haul of 19.
“All season long it seems to take us 15 minutes or so to get into our rhythm,” said SD State Head Coach Matt Hawkins. “Same thing happened today. We got an intercept try – it was a try but not from anything we created. They scored, so, OK, it’s basically 0-0, and we didn’t really get going until 20 minutes in.”
Once they did get going, the Aztecs did a better job of keeping the ball, and stretching the defense. Shea scored his tries in support of backline attacks, while other forwards, such as flanker Jake Poliakoff, did more grunt work to produce ball.
“We’ve also been working a lot on communication in defense and isolating ballcarriers, and we did a good job of that,” said Hawkins.
Now comes the tough work of getting ready for another game tomorrow.
“We just need to get guys healthy and rested and ready to play,” said Battle.
“I’m fortunate in that in my 7s career I’ve dealt with this sort of thing a lot,” added Hawkins, the former USA 7s team captain. “I know what it will feel like. We’ve played Santa Barbara twice this season, so there won’t be any surprises. So it will come down to who’s cramping up in the final 40 minutes. It will be who wants it more, but also, who can give more.”
Tries: Gallo 2, McHargue 2, Wanger
Convs: Gallo 3
Pens: Gallo 2
Oregon State 27
Tries: Clark, Haitsuka, Fargher, Rodman
Convs: Pizer 2
San Diego State 59
Tries: Gagel, Shea 3, Kelm, Ramos, Konrad, Winbrock 2
Convs: Konrad 7
Santa Clara 14
Tries: Falvery, Johnson