BYU staves off Saint Mary’s to even season series with Gaels

D1A Rugby: BYU staves off Saint Mary’s to even season series with Gaels
Photo Credit: Karen Drinkwater

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – No. 4 BYU evened its season series with No. 1 Saint Mary’s by defending its home turf on its way to a 35-26 win.

The Gaels arrived in Utah hoping to earn their first season sweep of the Cougars after besting BYU, 27-12, three weeks ago in Moraga, Calif., but BYU had other plans. All-Americans Joshua Whippy and Alex Vorster scored tries with the latter being converted for an early, 12-0, lead.

Saint Mary’s full back Dylan Audsley, whose kicking from the tee has been incredibly accurate thus far in 2017, cut the lead in half with consecutive penalty goals. Audsley connected again – this time on a conversion attempt – to give the Gaels a 13-12 lead after inside center Aaron Matthews sent Cory Kroeger over the line for the team’s first try.

It didn’t take long, however, for BYU to return to the front foot. Kevin Schofield’s assist to a try-scoring Tua Laei put the Cougars back on top, and Calvin Whiting would add a penalty before the halftime hooter to send his side into halftime leading 22-13.

The Gaels, again, called on Audsley’s boot to get them back into the game in the second half. The All-American slotted six more points to open the second period to inch Saint Mary’s within three points of the hosts, 22-19.

BYU’s exploits on attack carried the Cougars to four tries compared to Saint Mary’s two. Its fourth was awarded to Kingston Matua and Whiting converted to push BYU’s advantage to 10 points. Minutes later Whiting was at it again, this time connecting on a penalty attempt to give the Cougars their largest lead of the afternoon, 32-19.

The Gaels made one last attempt to steal a win on the road when a well-worked scrum was picked up in the back by scrum half Holden Yungert, who ran into the corner for a score. Audsley’s successful conversion made it just a six-point ballgame, 32-26, but Whiting answered with a penalty to close the door on Saint Mary’s comeback attempt.

BYU’s independent schedule rolls on with the first game of another home-and-away series – this time against Central Washington. The Cougars will travel to the Pacific Northwest to take on the Wildcats Saturday, March 18, before hosting them March 31.

Saint Mary’s next match is another road game against a highly-ranked team. The Gaels will make the short drive to Berkeley, Calif., to contend with No. 3 Cal March