Oceanside from Southern California outscored Saratoga in a shootout, 38-26, to win the second DIII semifinal Saturday at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colo.
Oceanside looked like it might run right over Saratoga at first, but the challengers from the East, led by flyhalf Trent Jackson and fullback James Ferguson, never went away.
Saratoga actually opened scoring with a Jackson penalty, but Oceanside ran in the game's first two tries in short order.
The largely Polynesian side featured a wide-open game, kicking and chasing deep in Saratoga’s end. When the Chiefs got the ball wide, they were able to gain ground. When Saratoga advanced the ball, it’d been by keeping it close to the breakdown, at least in the first half.
Oceanside first got on the board with a 90-meter possession. Saratoga was plugging toward the try line with pick and jams, but some big hits from Chiefs forwards jarred the ball loose. They swung the ball wide to the right wing, and he carried it to within 10 meters of pay dirt before a lock slammed it down.
7s Eagle Tai Enosa, playing fullback, set up the next score for Oceanside, slicing through the Saratoga line and passing to the left wing, who danced past a couple of would-be tacklers and ran in for a try.
Saratoga got its first try several minutes later by charging down a kick deep in Oceanside’s end and beating the Chiefs to the ball in the try zone. Jackson drew Saratoga a little closer with another penalty before halftime, making it 17-13 at intermission.
The Kiwi slotted another kick to open the second half and pull Saratoga within one.
Oceanside then got a try from its outside center, who delivered a monster hand-off en route to the try zone. Converted, the try put the Chiefs up 24-16, and it seemed Oceanside may have all the momentum.
However, Jackson kept Saratoga in it, kicking through another three points and setting up a try. Jackson pop kicked and collected the ball before offloading and setting Saratoga up deep inside Oceanside’s end. A couple of phases later, Ferguson violently uncoiled his slight frame through a Chief and into the try zone. Jackson Converted, putting ‘Toga up 26-24 with 15 minutes left to play.
Oceanside bowled over for a forwards try in the 70th minute to regain the lead, and again in the 78th minute to put the game away.