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The title chase is down to four teams, as Utah and Lindenwood meet in one semifinal and Central Washington and Davenport clash in the other. Blow-by-blow recaps of the quarterfinals:
CENTRAL WASHINGTON 31-0 SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State knocked on the opening kickoff, and Central scored immediately off the scrum. The Wildcats simply sent the ball wide to Cameron Merrick, who sped around the Aztec defense for a try. The conversion was missed, making it 5-0 to CWU.
An Aztec penalty in the defensive end gave the Wildcats possession inside the attacking 22, and Josh Bower slipped through for a try all too easily. Scott Dean converted, making it 12-0 to Central. Another SDSU penalty was punished by the pace or Marek before the end of the half, giving the Wildcats a 17-0 lead going into the break.
That lead was stretched seconds after the break. Aladdin Schirmer lifted Zach Siemens to take the restart, and no one defended Siemens when he was brought back to earth. He ran up the field, and when the sweeper came over, he dished to Schirmer for the easy try. Dean converted, and CWU led 24-0.
Siemens would capitalize on his own break for the next score, hop-stepping through the Aztec defense off a lineout and racing through the line and straight under the posts. Dean slotted the extra two – 31-0. Central emptied its bench, and San Diego State continued to be starved of possession, with time running out.
LINDENWOOD 21-17 AIC
Lindenwood overthrew a lineout on its own try line, and an AIC forward hauled it in and punched the try over from five meters out. The conversion was missed, and AIC led 5-0.
Alex Augspurg nearly leveled the table with a chip and chase, as he appeared to win the race to the ball, but the AIC defender tracking him got his hands on the pill before him and shoved it dead through the back of the try zone.
Lindenwood didn’t capitalize on the ensuing scrum, but Sebastian Kalm would score eventually, as the Yellowjackets were unable to clear the ball from their own end.
Seth Halliman won the restart after Lindenwood’s score, and he wasn’t touched as he ran between the posts for a try. AIC would take a 12-7 lead into the break.
Lindenwood got a spark from reserve Morgan Findlay. He quick-tapped after an AIC penalty, slipped a pass through to Kalm, and the Chilean drew the last defender and put the final ball carrier away for the score. The conversion gave Lindenwood a 14-12 lead.
AIC caught a break, as the restart was tapped back by Lindenwood and rolled between Findlay’s legs. DeShae Edwards picked it up and won the race to the try line, putting the Yellowjackets back on top, 17-14, with a minute to play.
Bateman then scored seconds later to put the Lions in front. A Lion ball carrier drew two tacklers, offloaded to Bateman, and the Kiwi threw one dummy and was off to the races. There was enough time for one more kickoff, and AIC mounted a legitimate drive, but it ended with a knock-on, and Lindenwood advanced 21-17.
UTAH 14-5 ST. MARY’S
Thomas Taylor scored the opening try a ruck into the game, slicing through a sluggish Gael defensive line with a big fend. Danny Christensen slotted the conversion.
The ensuing restart didn’t go well for Utah, giving St. Mary’s a free kick at midfield. Kingsley McGowan drew attention and fed Holden Yungert through a hole for the rebuttal. The conversion was missed, leaving the Utes up 7-5.
McGowan made a half break with his shifty footwork, but he couldn’t separate from the defense and a poor pass was knocked on, leaving a scoring opportunity begging right on halftime.
Utah extended the lead with a pair of rumbles from big runners. Scott Strong carried the ball the furthest, quickly plucking from a ruck and surprising the Gael defense. He took it to a few meters short of the try line, and a couple of carries later the Utes were in.
St. Mary’s wouldn’t really threaten the rest of the game, with some gritty defense by Utah keeping the ball in one end of the field. A yellow card didn’t help the Gaels, and Utah held on for the 14-5 win.
DAVENPORT 17-12 ARIZONA STATE
Gabe Sochanek extended the Panthers lead with a second try, hurdling a Sun Devil defender attempting to go low on the big ball carrier.
Adam Sandstrom weaved through the Panther defense in an effort to find pay dirt toward the end of the half, but he was brought down short of the try line and rabid Davenport defense earned a turnover to preserve the shutout going into intermission.
Keenan Mayfield finally got the Sun Devils on the board to start the second half. Davenport conceded a penalty in its own end, and Mayfield was the recipient of a backdoor pass confusing the final defender.
Penalty woes in their own end continued for the Panthers right after the ensuing restart, and though the defensive line managed to stymie the Sun Devils for a minute or so, Sandstrom eventually found a hole and poked through for a try. With a conversion, ASU led 12-10 with just under three minutes to play.
Mason Baum responded right away for DU. Mayfield won the restart for the Sun Devils, but a knock-on gave the Panthers the ball, and Baum beat Sandstrom around the corner for a long-range try. JP Eloff slotted the conversion, making it 17-12 to Davenport.
Davenport had a lineout with no time left on the clock, but the Panthers were unable to collect the ball cleanly and clear it to touch, giving Arizona State another possession. Luckily for Davenport, ASU knocked on, ending the game.