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In the opening night of the American Collegiate Rugby Championship, North Carolina State used a strong second half performance to pull away from Texas State, 63-7 in Charlotte, NC.
The early stages of the game saw the two unfamiliar teams feel each other out. The first 20 minutes was very much a defensive battle before North Carolina State opened up the scoring with an unconverted try and a converted try for a 12-0 lead. “We came out in the first half trying to play smart, trying to figure out where our opportunities were,” said NC State head coach Brian Ketchem.
Texas State responded with a converted try from Oliver Powell to make the game 12-5. Texas State hung around early but by the midway point of the first half, the size and speed of North Carolina began to take over. Adam Hockaday gave the Wolf Pack a 10-point lead with a try in the corner. The athletic lock was all over the field, storming in for two tries on the evening. However, at halftime Texas State kept the game close with a 17-7 score.
The second half was all North Carolina State as the Wolf Pack put in 6 tries. Dominic Goldston, at outside center, used a solid combination of size and speed two dot down multiple tries on the evening. His first of the game made it 29-7. Overall, the Wolf Pack had four multi-try scorers on the evening. “All year we had guys step up each and every game. Forwards scoring multiple times, back scoring multiple times. There really aren’t any all stars on the team,” added Ketchem.
Scrumhalf Kevin Murphy scored two tries in quick succession and the wheels started to fall off for the Texas side. Texas State began falling off tackles and was constantly on the back foot. “Once we realized where their weaknesses and where they lined up with our strengths we attacked them,” Ketchem said.
Compounding the defensive problems for Texas State, a dangerous tackle resulted in a yellow card and a man down for 10 minutes. North Carolina State took advantage of the man advantage, putting in three tries while up a man. The Wolf Pack exploited the space out wide using blistering pace from its backs to outflank its opponent. Amani Manning scored twice from the wing, showing tremendous speed.
After losses to ACRL elites Maryland and Clemson, NC State has come together to finish with a 5-2 record this fall. “We have been a second half of the season team, we have been working hard, we knew it was going to come together,” said Ketchem. We build a good foundation of pace and intensity and fitness.” Texas State continued to play hard but was unable to solve the NC State defense. In the end, the late second half surge resulted in a lopsided 63-7 win for the ACRL school.