Second half surge propels Life over Arkansas State

D1A Rugby: Second half surge propels Life over Arkansas State
Photo Credit: Rich Carvell

JONESBORO, Ark. – Life continued its dominant form over the weekend by easily dispatching former Mid-South rival Arkansas State, 32-15, to maintain its grasp on the Curt Huckaby Cup.

The Running Eagles have held sole ownership of the trophy since its inception in 2014, which recognizes the diligent work of former Arkansas State Head Coach and college rugby pioneer, as well as raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease in which Huckaby suffers from.

First-year head coach Scott Lawrence has witnessed the rivalry grow between Life and Arkansas State, and obviously felt he was part of more than just another Running Eagles victory.

“This piece of legacy is one of my favorite parts of what we do here,” said Life Head Coach Scott Lawrence. “I just felt lucky to be a part of it all in a new way this time. My favorite part was the post-game when [Curt’s son] Matt spoke to both teams about Curt and the Cup.”

On a soggy day on the Arkansas State campus, sophomore Conner Mooneyham ticked the scoreboard first with a try. The Red Wolves bit back when All-American Kirk Pretorius went over the line. Soon after, Arkansas State would briefly obtain a lead when a successful penalty kick made it 8-7.

Life’s Blane Mcllroy returned the favor and lead to his side with two of his own penalty goals.

Feeling some resistance from Arkansas State, Life responded with on-field adjustments, something it wasn’t forced to do in wins over Lindenwood and Davenport, which led to second half success.

“They adapted to some areas that Arkansas Stat had the advantage on us early,” complimented Lawrence.

Leading 13-8 going into the second half, full back Mitchell Wilson opened the second period with back-to-back tries. Now with a commanding, 25-8, advantage, Zander Van Schalkwyk quickly turned an intercepted pass into the Running Eagles’ final try.

Playmaking fly half Zinzan Elan-Puttick added a converted try for Arkansas State, but 32-15 would end up the final score.

The win was important in order to retain the Huckaby Cup, but was also Life’s first true road test of the season after having little difficulty taking care of Lindenwood and Davenport at home.

“There’s definitely something to be said about finding your road rhythm,” Lawrence said. “The little details of things not packed, contingency items not planned for, fuel choices, and miscalculated transitions will drive any coach up the wall. To get that debrief back from that, as well as a difficult opponent, is valuable to us and we’ll use it.”

The Running eagles will remain on the road as two road tests await against Mid-South foes hungry to avenge losses. First, Life will visit the Lions March 19, and then have a date with the Panthers April 2.