The red-haired duo of Mitch Krywulycz and Carter Newman each rallied in their matches, while Patrick Reed never trailed as Augusta State bounced Georgia Tech, 3-2, in the NCAA Division I Championship match-play quarterfinals Friday at Karsten Creek Golf Club.
The defending national champion Jaguars return to the semifinals and need just two more wins for a second consecutive title -- no team has repeated since Houston in 1984-85.
Augusta State will battle top-ranked Oklahoma State, starting at 11:45 a.m. today, on its home course. The Cowboys knocked off Ohio State, 31/2-11/2, in their quarterfinal matchup.
"It's going to be epic. It's going to be a pretty serious fight," Krywulycz said. "We've got two great players (Reed and Henrik Norlander) to go out as our last two guys. And Olle (Bengtsson) is a great match-play player, and Carter's playing great golf.
"This is their home course. They're the best team here. They've got all the pressure on them. So there's no reason why we can't win tomorrow."
Augusta State defeated Oklahoma State in the final match of the 2010 NCAA Championship. Now, the Jaguars will have to defeat the Cowboys just to advance to play either Duke, which knocked off No. 1 seed UCLA, or Georgia. The Bulldogs beat Illinois to advance.
"This is what we were looking for," Reed said. "When you play in the national championship, you always want to play the top team in the country. It's going to be a fun battle."
"Josh Gregory's kids are tough as nails, and I'm not just saying that as coach speak. They are really tough and they proved that this morning by beating Georgia Tech, whom I think was one of the hottest teams," Oklahoma State coach Mike McGraw said. "I tip my hats to them. They are an amazing team and we are going to have to play really well tomorrow."
Reed helped Augusta State get off to a get start, dominating from the start for a 3 and 2 win over James White. Reed birdied Nos. 1 and 4 and never looked back.
"It was pretty solid," Reed said of his win. "To be 3-up through nine against a first-team All-American is pretty good."
Olle Bengtsson appeared to be in good shape at 5-up through seven holes against Richy Werenski, but Bengtsson fell in 19 holes. Norlander lost Nos. 14-16 to J.T. Griffin and fell 3 and 2.
Newman, who defeated Paul Haley last year, was all square with his old foe through 16 holes. On the front nine, Newman rallied to win three consecutive holes, including a 30-foot par putt at No. 8 and then a lob wedge from 100 yards out to inches for a kick-in birdie at the par-5 ninth.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to turn it around or not," Newman said. "He was making solid pars and I was making mistakes."
At No. 17, Newman rolled in a 5-foot par putt to go 1-up. At the closing hole, he two-putted from 70 feet for birdie to go 2-up and secure the second point. Then, it all came down to Krywulycz.
The senior Australian bogeyed No. 13, but rebounded with an up-and-down birdie from 60 yards out at the par-5 14th. At No. 16, Krywulycz dropped a 12-foot, left-to-right par putt to remain all square.
One day earlier, Krywulycz triple bogeyed the par-4 17th. This time, he reached the green in two and two-putted from 40 feet for par. Kyle Scott missed the green right and missed a 15-foot par putt.
With a 1-up lead, Krywulycz bombed a drive down the middle and followed with a 6-iron to 40 feet. He two-putted for par for the match-clinching point. Krywulycz shot 71, while Scott shot 72.
"I feel like I achieved something today," Krywulycz said. "I beat someone who was playing well. I'd take 71 the next two days, hopefully."
"To see Carter pull it off in the end, and the same thing with Mitch, it's special. It keeps us alive," Reed said.
"We're grinders. Our backs were up against the wall. Since we're all leaving, we're leaving nothing out there. We're going for it all."
After the win, Augusta State focused its attention on Oklahoma State. If the Jaguars want to beat the Cowboys again, they first must get their senior Swedes back on track, especially Bengtsson, who watched Werenski battle back to force extra holes.
Aside from one round in stroke play, Norlander has yet to play up to his two-time All-American standards.
"We're never worried about Henrik," Reed said. "We know he's going to have a bad day once in awhile. We're glad he got it over. He'll be fine tomorrow. He'll play well. He's real close."