LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Cal’s win over Arizona State keeps the Bears undefeated in the PAC, while USC and Utah earned their first conference wins of the season. The Trojans beat the Utes, but that was against Utah’s B-side. The Utes’ top side squared off against UCLA and hammered the Bruins, 49-8.
Cal 44 – 16 Arizona State
The Golden Bears we far from full strength against the Sun Devils. No. 1-ranked Cal, which hosted Cal Poly in a nonconference contest later in the day, split its first XV evenly between the two lineups and still came away with two one-sided wins.
Forwards Drew Gaffney and Olivier Damas scored unconverted tries to give Cal an 11-point lead 11 minutes into the game. Before the first half’s end, backs Troy Lockyear and Patrick Barrientes dotted down to put the Bears up 22-0 before an Alex Walsh penalty kick got Arizona State on the board.
The Sun Devils found success in the opening minutes of second half when Walsh added a second penalty and Peter Akele-Ale scored the team’s first try of the game to cut into Cal’s lead, 22-11. The Bears, however, would outscore Arizona State 22-5 down the stretch thanks to a pair of tries by freshman Sam Cusano and two more scores by Gaffney – giving the senior eight man a hat trick.
Never satisfied, Cal felt the 28-point victory was far from its best possible performance.
“The most important bit is executing,” All-American fly half Russell Webb told Calbears.com. “We’ve got to execute, whether in the scrum, the lineout or with our hands. That really is going to be the buzzword for the next week at training.”
Cal found greater success later in the afternoon when it dismantled Cal Poly, 73-7. Ten different Bears found the try zone – including junior outside center Aidan Flynn who scored twice. Jamie Howells was an impressive 8-10 on conversions, giving the senior 16 points in the outing.
Utah 49 – 8 UCLA
After dropping last week’s game to Arizona in the desert, a return to Los Angeles couldn’t heel UCLA’s woes. Utah used its best lineup to beat the Bruins handedly, 49-8.
UCLA scrum half Yoh Nakayama gave his side a brief lead with a successful penalty kick for goal two minutes into the match. Utah’s Kelsin Pupunu’s try would be the first of three first half tries for the Utes to give them a 15-3 advantage at the break.
After a Chad Gough try and Josh Webber penalty to begin the second half, Bruin center Niall Barry ended Utah’s 23-point run with a 55th minute try. UCLA couldn’t sustain the moment, though, and the Utes owned the last 25 minutes of the match. Josh Webber scored six more points from his boot and reserve prop Rob Muhlestein got himself into the scoring frenzy with a try. In the end, it would be recorded as an impressive 49-8 win for the visiting Utes.
USC 31 – 5 Utah (B-side)
The Utes contested two PAC matches Saturday, Feb. 11, giving their B-side an opportunity to battle the conference’s newest team – USC. Tries by All-American eight man Luc Desroches and fellow loose forward Hunter Rusack, both converted by fly half Kurt McNally, gave the Trojans a 14-0 halftime lead.
Utah opened the second half’s scoring with a try, but those would be the only points USC would relinquish. Wing Andrew Ahazie and hooker Michael Cesar were credited for second half scores, helping to push the Trojans lead to 31-5 by the final whistle, and earning them its first-ever PAC Rugby Conference victory.