Arkansas State players Pat Sullivan and Paul Benade gave the South all the scoring they needed, as the two combined for 40 points in the South's 67-33 defeat of Southern California in the final of the National Men's Collegiate All-Star Championships.
Benade, a flanker converted to wing who had missed much of the regular season with a broken clavicle, scored three tries in the victory, while Sullivan scored two, and added six conversions and a penalty.
Southern California did not give up despite falling behind by a large margin early in the second half, and ran in four tries.
"It was a little closer than the score looks," said South Head Coach Matt Huckaby. "Kelm and Tiberio, when they got rolling, those guys are pretty electric. They were very organized but we were able to get rolling."
Huckaby said he got plenty of big performances, especially from Life University star Cam Dolan, who, the coach said, was a level above the rest. But the key to victory was team chemsitry.
"My stomach hurts from laughing so hard this week," said Huckaby. "It was a really fun team to coach. They got along so well, it was really neat to watch. It really looked like a team that has been playing together for five years. They did a good job of being goofy, but not too goofy, and Cam was a great leader."
The South controlled much of the possession, and with a massive and mobile pack were able to string period of eight, nine or ten phases together, capping those periods off with tries. Forced to play defense, the SoCal Griffins had a tough time rebounding, although they did their best.
"Everybody hit the rucks," said Huckaby. "Nobody was too good to do the tough work."
The South was mostly players from two top Premier teams, Arkansas State and Life University. However, several other programs contributed key players. Benji Goff was excellent as a center, playing every minute of both games this weekend and playing unselfishly and often brililantly. Coastal Carolina prop Alex Nazon played some key minutes. South Florida lock Justin Hill "is ferocious," said Huckaby. "He'd be a great Super League pickup for somebody." And Florida State's Dylan Hamilton, Florida's Darrell Meckley, and Tennessee's Zach Mobiius were also outstanding.
"We're starting to see some outstanding athletes," said Huckaby. "The presence of Life helps, but we're seeing athletes from all over."
Since losing both games in 2008 to drop down to Tier 2, the South has won six games in a row, winning Tier 2 in 2009, Tier 1 in 2010, and again in 2011.
Tries: Potgeiter, Sullivan 2, Benade 3, White, Lambert, Dolan, Cariaga
Convs: Sullivan 6, McNeil
Southern California 33
Tries: Hughes, Tiberio, Fenoglio, Other
Convs: Kelm 2
Pens: Kelm 3