Davenport stays one step ahead of Aztecs in opening round Playoff win

D1A Rugby: Davenport stays one step ahead of Aztecs in opening round Playoff win
Photo Credit: Connie Hatfield

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – San Diego State couldn’t hold home turf, as Davenport came to town and returned to Michigan with a 43-31 win. The Panthers, who scored seven tries in the victory, relished the opportunity to play running rugby after a string of matches played in snowy conditions.

A Brett Rameil penalty kick opened the afternoon’s scoring and gave San Diego State a 3-0 lead. Sixth-ranked Davenport quickly took its own lead when winger Mike Houston scored a try, and forwards Trevor Rothhaas and Dominique Bailey soon followed suit to boost its lead to 24-3.

The Aztecs had reason to believe they were still in the match after hooker Johnny Abdulahad scored the team’s first try, and Rameil converted to bring the home team to within 14 points at halftime.

The momentum didn’t stay in the hands of San Diego State for long. Davenport wing Vershawn Burke scored back-to-back tries to open the second stanza, and Brady Gent converted the second to give the Panthers a commanding 36-10 lead.

As they had on a number of occasions during the season, the Aztecs made a valiant second half comeback. Lock Jake Jorstad dotted down twice, and San Diego State outscored its opposition three tries to one down the stretch. Davenport’s final try was a second score by Bailey.

The win puts the Panthers back to work to prepare for a Quarterfinal fixture against No. 1-ranked Life – the teams’ third match against one another this season. After giving the Running Eagles fits in two 2015 encounters, Life has dominated Davenport to the tune of a plus-82 scoring margin during conference play.

A young San Diego State side will return a lot of players from its improved 2016 team. After proving capable to win close games against fellow California Conference teams such as Cal Poly and Santa Clara, the Aztecs’ next goal will be to close the gap between themselves and No. 2 Saint Mary’s.