JONESBORO, Ark. – The gloves are coming off. Arkansas State and Life have gone two rounds this season and the third and final is going to be a good old-fashioned slugfest between two heavyweights.
The deciding round is going to be another instant classic. I keep saying that and it keeps happening. When Life hosted Arkansas State in the last regular season game in the Mid-South Conference, Life scored at the death to win 33-29. When the two teams met in Jonesboro on March 9, it was ASU who came from behind to beat Life 28-22.
The two go punch for punch, and this semifinal is the latest testament to how competitive these two programs are. Especially when you consider Life has only had an undergraduate team for three years.
In the first-ever USA Rugby College Sevens National Championship in 2011, Life knocked Arkansas State out in the semifinals round and the Running Eagles went on to win the title.
The next year, ASU beat Life in the sevens National Championship game.
Now, the two top sides are going to add to the lore in fifteens in the D1A Semifinal.
FORM, FORM, FORM
As with any playoff game, it comes down to who is in better form.
Life is coming off a 55-29 win over Army in West Point, N.Y., and Arkansas State a 31-10 victory over Kutztown in a muddy, wet, and rainy Jonesboro.
Both teams looked sharp in the quarters. Life’s speed was too much for Army and Arkansas State’s opportunism saw them turn a two-point halftime lead into an eventual 21 point win.
So who is in better form? Both, but we’ll let them speak to that on the field.
The center battle is going to be electric. Zac Mizell is in scintillating form after coming back from a foot injury and his center partner Dean Gericke is fresh off an Eagles assembly.
Life head coach Dan Payne has a few options at center, but last week started Calvin Nell and Zach Miller who did well to pressure Army’s midfielders.
Payne also started All-American Cam Dolan (6’6″, 238 lbs.) – who usually plays in the loose forwards – on the wing. Dolan is coming back from an ACL injury, but was dominant in his first game back in an unfamiliar position. That might be a wild card Payne can play that could present matchup problems for Arkansas State out wide.
The game kicks off at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast live on 103.9 The Game.