BYU rugby comes back to beat No. 4 Saint Mary’s

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A large home crowd cheers on BYU rugby player Joshua Whippy as he dives for five points against St. Mary's. (Natalie Stoker)
A large home crowd cheers on BYU rugby player Joshua Whippy as he dives for five points against St. Mary’s last season. (Natalie Stoker)

The BYU rugby team came back to beat Saint Mary’s 35-26 Saturday night at South Field Stadium after trailing by as much as 16 points.

“Tonight was such a hard game,” said junior scrum-half Luck Mocke. “It took a lot for us to come back from a 16-point deficit. I saw a side of the guys on the team that I hadn’t seen before. They reached deep and put their heart into the game.”

The Cougars came into Saturday night’s game ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation. The Gaels weren’t far behind, sitting at No. 4 overall. The two titans had already faced off earlier in the season, which saw the Cougars pull out a narrow 32-28 victory.

The Gaels sought revenge as they put up the game’s first 16 points in the opening 26 minutes of play. But it didn’t take long for BYU to wake up and respond.

Senior Seki Kofe broke through two defenders to give the Cougars their first try of the game. Junior Jonathan Linehan completed the conversion to add two more points, making it a 7-16 game.

Only a few minutes later, junior Joshua Whippy intercepted a pass from the Gaels and ran it all the way for another try. Another conversion from Linehan brought the Cougars within two points, 14-16, going into the half.

Linehan posted up eight points for the Cougars in just five minutes following the break to give them a 22-16 lead.

The Gaels battled back to regain the lead 25-26. A late try from sophomore Tua Laei regained the lead for the Cougars, while another Linehan penalty kick put the game out of reach, 35-26.

BYU will next face the University of Utah in the battle of the Wasatch Cup on Saturday, March 21, before returning to South Field to play UVU March 25 at 7 p.m.

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