(Provo, UT) With the deft kicking of scrumhalf Shaun Davies and a second-half rally, #1 BYU defeated #5 Utah 38-22 to capture their seventh consecutive Wasatch Cup at South Field.
Davies slotted an penalty kick just minutes in, while Utah flyhalf Danny Christensen missed two early penalties. The Cougars bolstered their lead to 13-0 with another penalty from Davies and a try from outside center Paul Lasike. But the visitors soon found a rhythm - utility back Tonata Lauti, playing at wing, set up no. 8 Les Saloai for a score, and and counterpart Winston Harris had a breakaway run for 40 meters and a visit to the try line. All-American prop Nick Mostyn burst through for Utah's third unconverted try, but a third Davies penalty, in injury time, put the Cougars ahead 16-15 at halftime.
The second stanza began with a BYU try, as wing Malosi Te'o intercepted a pass from Harris, his Utah opposite, racing 80 meters to touch down. Lauti was yellow-carded and Davies went four for four on the ensuing penalty kick. The shorthanded Utes pressed into BYU's 22, forcing multiple penalties - after the Cougars collapsed a scrum five meters out from the posts, referee Paul Bretz awarded a penalty try to Saloai. An easy conversion from Christensen made it 24-22, Utah trailing.
BYU made a critical kick for touch, using a penalty to set up a lineout deep in Utah's half. The Cougars turned over the ball on a crooked throw - Utah elected to scrum, but BYU won the engagement, allowing All-American no. 8 Ryan Roundy to muscle in for a short-range try. Freshman fullback Tua Laei sealed the game in the 64th minute on an off-load from wing Will Taylor, sprinting 30 meters to the try line. Davies converted, making the final score 38-22.
Of note was the presence (and absence) of several football crossovers. Wing Malosi Te'o, a senior, was a former running back for BYU, while sophomore Paul Lasike, moving in the other direction, is currently learning to play that same position. Utah was without former US Eagle Thretton Palamo, who spearheaded the Utes to victory in the 2010 CRC 7s. The center, of Samoan heritage, is now playing as a defensive end for Utah's football program.
With Saturday's win, unbeaten BYU (6-0 West) is assured a place in the DI-A postseason - a victory against Colorado on April 21st would mean a second Western Conference championship, as well as a quarterfinal match at home May 5th. Utah (3-0 West) travels north this weekend for back-to-back matches against #12 CU and #7 Air Force - all three teams remain in playoff contention. The Utes must return from Colorado with two wins to secure a playoff berth: should Utah lose to Air Force (2-2 West), the Zoomies become the frontrunners for the remaining Western playoff seed.
Tries: Paul Lasike, Malosi Te'o, Ryan Roundy, Tua Laei
Conversions: Shaun Davies (3/4)
Penalties: Shaun Davies (4/4)
Tua Leai; Will Taylor, Paul Lasike, Seki Kofe, Malosi Te'o; Dylan Lubbe, Shaun Davies; Mikey Su'a, Chad Harker, Ray Forrester, TJ Allred (Braden Bair), Mark Bonham (Hynie Leaatoa), Kyle Sumsion, Kumi Tua'one, Ryan Roundy ©.
Tries: Les Saloai, Winston Harris, Nick Mostyn
Penalty try: Les Saloai
Conversion: Danny Christensen (1/4)
Lopeti Lauti; Tonata Lauti, Trevor Trowbridge, Timote Houma, Winston Harris, Danny Christensen, Don Pati; Nick Mostyn ©, Michael Shepherd, Ty Peterson, Shawn Quigley, Spencer Vickery, Mike Juszczak, Danny James, Les Soloai.
Reserves: Kaleb Hogan, Bridger Walzer, Spencer Vickery, Madison Wilding, Samson Kaloni, Austin Taylor.
Referee: Paul Bretz (USA Rugby)
Attendance: 3,833 (official; standing room only after halftime)