Steve Forster's penalty kick from 30 yards away with four minutes left gave San Diego State a 10-9 victory over Air Force in the National Collegiate rugby championship game Sunday at Pebble Beach.
It is the first national championship for San Diego State (30-1), which founded its rugby club in 1958, and it is the first time the Aztecs have reached the final four of the national tournament, which has been played since 1980.
"I knew it was basically down to the national championship. It was do or die," Forster said of his game-winner. "I think the better team won the game."
Forster, who scored all the Aztecs' points, made a penalty kick from 50 yards out midway through the first half to tie the score, 3-3.
The Aztecs took a 7-3 lead early in the second half when Forster scored a try. Forster was setting up for a penalty kick when he noticed the Air Force defender, who was covering him, looking the other way. Forster scooped up the ball and ran it in for the four-pointer, barreling over two Air Force defenders on the way. Forster missed the two-point conversion.
Air Force (15-4-2) matched the Aztecs' try 15 minutes later when one of its backs broke away for an 85-yard run for a 7-7 tie. Air Force made the conversion for a 9-7 advantage.
With a little more than four minutes remaining, the Aztecs got the break they needed. Air Force had the ball in its own territory, but an erratic pitch resulted in an Air Force penalty, which allowed Forster to kick the game-winner. Forster faced a severe angle and a cross wind, but he kicked the ball perfectly between the goal posts.
"We realized that we had accomplished what we set out to do," Forster said. "This is what the club has tried to do for three years."