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Davenport avenged a fall loss with a 16-7 win over Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Ark., Saturday. Despite only being able to practice outside one time prior to the match, the Michigan-based side pulled off a solid road victory.
The visitors controlled most of the play in the first half and kept the Red Wolves off the scoreboard. JP Eloff opened the scoring for Davenport with a penalty. Eloff would convert three penalties and the Panthers' only try of the game for a total of 11 points in the first half. Kevin Lydon, the Davenport scrumhalf, dotted down to increase the lead to 10-0, and then two penalties before halftime left the score 16-0 in favor of the Panthers.
Davenport managed to stymie the home side by sustaining ball possession in the first half. “They are obviously dangerous with ball in hand and that was our big push today,” said Davenport coach James Wood. “If we could limit their time with the ball by possessing it the lion's share ourselves, we put ourselves in a good spot and save ourselves from having to play too much defense.”
Arkansas State responded in the second half, pinning Davenport inside its own 22 for an extended period of time. Davenport attempted to clear its line but the kick was not struck very well and the Red Wolves scored a counter attack try under the posts to cut the lead to 16-7. The rest of the game was very back and forth, but Davenport was able to hold off the Red Wolves for an impressive home victory.
Wood was very happy with the patience his team showed on offense, something he hoped his side would carry over from the fall.
“These defenses are good, they are disciplined, you are not going to break them in a couple of phases, you are going to have to be willing to play multiple phases to unlock things,” added Wood. “It has been a push since the fall and we are carrying over some of those lessons into the spring, and as a coach, it was something I was hoping for.”
JP Eloff continues to impress for Davenport, having another strong performance on both sides of the ball. Angus MacLellan and Gabe Sochanek spearheaded a strong performance from the Panther pack. Loose forwards Conor Schilling and Carl Smith were constantly around the breakdown and successfully disrupted Arkansas State ball.
After falling at home to ASU, 49-12 in the fall, Davenport put together an overall sound performance to split the season series with the Red Wolves.