Arkansas State repeated as 7s National Champion with a 32-12 defeat of St. Mary’s at Bryan Park in Greensboro, NC Sunday. Arkansas State not only won a second-straight championship, but did it with an undefeated record. The championship marks head coach Matt Huckaby’s first in that role.
The contest started with both teams trading possession between the 22s, but Arkansas made the first real threat when Dylan Carrion squirted through the St. Mary’s line and to within a few meters of the try line. Shaun Potgieter then dotted down to put the Red Wolves up 5-0.
Arkansas State regained possession after a sloppy restart, and following several sloppy rucks, Gavin Brown picked up and darted into the try zone to extend the lead. The direct conversion was slotted by Tom Haussrer, making it 12-0 with five minutes gone.
St. Mary’s put together its longest possession off the next kickoff, moving the ball to within the attacking 22, but a knock on by Garrett Brewer gave the ball back to Arkansas State. From the scrum, Haussrer tried to kick for clearance, but the attempt was charged down and into touch. St. Mary’s was awarded a penalty on the ensuing lineout, and the Gaels swung the ball wide to Cooper Maloney, who crashed over to make it 12-5. The conversion attempt was missed.
Arkansas State didn’t wait to respond with a Carrion try. Harry Higgins made a breach through the Gaels defense and gave it up to the diminutive halfback who took it the rest of the way. ASU took the restart and nearly scored again before the half, but a knock-on ended the period with the Red Wolves up 17-5.
Arkansas State effectively put the game away just a couple of minutes into the second half when Steyn Benade dotted down following a stretch of desperation defense from St. Mary's, during which Potgieter de-cleated the Gaels’ biggest player.
Brewer then seemed to have scored off a nice individual effort, beating two defenders and stretching over the line, but the ball was brought back for a scrum. From there, Carrion scampered most of the field and offloaded to Higgins for the try. 27-5.
St. Mary’s won back some respectability when Maloney broke for a long-range try, escaping the grasps of Haussrer to make it 27-12. The ensuing kickoff didn’t go 10 meters, and the Red Wolves put the pressure back on St. Mary’s. Dale Bates nearly scored in the corner but was tackled into touch. ASU won the lineout, and Carrion squirted through for another at the death.
Halfback Dylan Carrion was named the tournament MVP for his two-try performance in the final and an outstanding two days.
Tries: Benade, Brown, Potgieter, Carrion 2, Higgins
Tries: Maloney 2