BYU rugby slams Utah in rival game

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BYU rugby took the Wasatch Cup again against rival University of Utah 41-21, making this its ninth win out of the last 10 games against the Utes.

BYU's Joshua Whippy sprints down the field looking for an open teammate. Photo by Natalie Stoker
BYU center Joshua Whippy sprints down the field looking for an open teammate.
(Photo by Natalie Stoker)

As if the overflowing bleachers didn’t give it away, the heat and stress of the game was obvious as the rivals competed throughout the night. There was a fairly good split up between Utah and BYU fans, and the volume was high, adding to the excitement of the game.

“A big crowd does help quite a bit, so that was good,” said head coach David Smyth. “It’s a great atmosphere — Friday night, standing room only. There were more people there than I’d ever seen before.”

Before the game started, former BYU captain Ryan Roundy unveiled the 2013 National Championship banner. A video presentation recognizing the title played on the big screen, pumping up BYU fans even more.

BYU began the game with the kick-off, beginning the first half on a good foot well into Utah’s half. Utah kept up the pressure with excellent defense, but still the majority of the game remained in Utah’s half, not far from center field.

The first try of the game came 18 minutes into the first half by BYU’s Kody Thompson, paired with a good conversion that brought the score up to 7-0.

Once BYU got rolling, it really picked up speed. Junior Jordan Lowry followed up with a second try soon after with an impressive run right down the middle of the field. A solid kick brought the Cougars up to a 14-point lead against the Utes.

“It’s a really slim chance that I’ll get the chance to go up the middle, which I actually like,” Lowry said. “I was just lucky; when the ball came to me I just tucked it and ran.”

For the third time in the game Utah was within inches of the try line, but multiple infringements gave BYU a penalty kick, bringing the score to 17-0 and giving BYU a solid lead with only 12 minutes left in the half.

Three minutes later Utah scored its first try, finally getting some points on the scoreboard and raising the score 17-5. Lowry picked up a fumble not long after, scoring his second try of the game, increasing BYU’s score by five points and ending the first half 22-7.

Great defense from Utah in the second half kept scoring at a halt. The Utes couldn’t keep the Cougars off for long before a try from Johnny Linehan added another five points to BYU’s score, bringing the score to 27-7 only five minutes into the second half.

Lowry was on a roll, scoring a third try for BYU and advancing its lead to 27 points. Linehan’s kick added another two, bringing the score to 34-7, 14 minutes into the second half.

Utah began its comeback maintaining possession of the ball and staying within inches of the try line at 56:00. BYU’s defense was able to hold up for four minutes before Utah finally scored another try. A successful conversion kick brought Utah’s score up to 14, with 19 minutes left in the game.

Another try for Utah, paired with a successful kick, brought the score to 34-21. It looked as if Utah was beginning to catch up, but it was as close as Utah would get. With only 4 1/2 minutes left in the game, junior Lelann Latu scored the next and final try for BYU. Another two points from Linehan ended the game 41-21, BYU.

“I thought we played very well,” Smyth said. “Anytime BYU plays Utah it’s always a battle. We expected nothing less, and that’s what we got. The boys all in all did very well.”

Next week the Cougars head to Arizona State to compete in the 2014 Rugby Bowl April 12 at 1 p.m.

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