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In a matchup of conference rivals, Davenport edged Arkansas State 15-12 in a non-conference clash. The Mid South does not start conference action until the spring but that did not stop conference opponents from testing each other this fall.
“Even though it was a non-conference game we kind of treated it as are marking point. Where we were at as a team as we will be playing them again along with the Lindenwood’s and the Life’s,” Davenport coach Harry King told Rugby Today. “Overall, team wise, it really gave them something that we can ride into the spring with,”
It was a very clean game with both teams playing strong defense. Arkansas State is used to swinging the ball wide and around the pitch, but was not able to get any offense going with the backs.
The Red Wolves did, however, score first through forward Pedro Alvarez. That was the only try of the first half and if not for a Davenport penalty, would have been the only points of the half.
The second half continued at the same pace, with both teams struggling to find offense. The Panthers thought they had a score early in the second half but the player was pulled into touch right by the corner pylon. Davenport did, however, get the first try of the second half at the 65-minute mark to take an 8-7 lead.
Arkansas State struck back with 12 minutes to play, scoring a try to take a 12-8 lead. With under 10 minutes to play, though, Davenport notched the game winner and held on for a 15-12 upset victory. Dominique Bailey, who was active around the field all day and had some quality ball carries, powered his way over for the game winner.
“It was a good hard fought match between two classy teams, and it was a high quality game at the refereeing level,” King added.
It was a quality win for a Davenport program that has not beaten Arkansas State since February of 2015. Last year the Panthers lost by a combined total of 98-7 in two matchups with the Red Wolves. This year, however, Davenport returned a large contingent of upper class men and looks to be poised for a run at the DIA national title.
“I have 10 seniors, so if we are going to make a run it is going to happen now,” King said of the outlook for this season.
The Mid South conference will begin play during the spring semester.