PROVO — The BYU Cougars won the College Premier Division Western Conference championship Saturday by shutting out the Arizona State Sun Devils 80-0 at South Field and finished the regular season 13-0 for the first time since 2009 when they won their first-ever national title.
The Cougars host Navy Saturday, May 7, at 1 p.m. at South Field in the opening round of the playoffs and it can be followed with a live stream at www.byurugby.com.
The No. 2-seeded Midshipmen (6-1), who beat such teams as Penn State, Dartmouth and Ohio State, are making their first visit to Provo.
The winner advances to the semifinals in Glendale, Colo., on May 14, while the championship game will be held at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, on May 21.
BYU ran in 12 tries against the Sun Devils with a trio of try-scorers — Ryan Roundy, Jared Whippy and Dylan Lubbe — scoring twice each.
“We wanted to play well and use this game as a springboard going into the playoffs,” said BYU head coach David Smyth, “We did that I think, but will have to continue to work on our execution in greater detail now that we’re to the business end of the season.”
After an ASU turnover BYU senior lock Viliami Vimahi offloaded the ball, which eventually ended up in the hands of another senior wing Zeke Mendenhall, who ran the remaining 20 meters for the game’s first score five minutes into the game.
The BYU forwards got their share of tries in the following minutes with flanker Hynie Leaaetoa and hooker Ishmael Tilialo lunging over for tries from short distances in the 12th and 16th minute respectively.
Whippy recorded his bevy of tries in sequence in the 24th and 31st minute as the Lubbe put the center into space out wide from a scrum and turnover ball.
The first half scoring ended on a bollocking carry by prop Mikey Su’a, who carried a few ASU defenders 10 meters after picking the ball up from the base of the ruck.
At halftime BYU led 42-0 behind six tries and six conversions by scrumhalf Shaun Davies.
“We started well, but were loose at times,” said assistant coach Wayne Tarawhiti, “We caused ourselves some head aches, but part of that was ASU’s making it tough early.”
Going into the second half Roundy scored in the 44th and 47th minute, respectively. One such try came from distance as the BYU captain dummied and bullied his way for a 50-meter plus individual try.
Lubbe scored in the 59th minute before ASU began to pressure the Cougar defense for over 12 minutes. As the Sun Devils made territory against the Cougars and strung phases together the BYU defense held true and denied the ASU offensive attempts.
BYU’s replacement wing and senior Lokahi Vuikadavu chased down a Lubbe kick and gallop the remaining 15 meters for the try in the 74th minute.
A juke and weave by Davies in the 78th minute gave the Cougars another try, while Viliami proved his kicking skills by nudging the ball behind the ASU defense that was gathered in the end zone by Lubbe for the final try of the game in the 80th minute.
Seniors Vimahi, Inoke Hafoka, Daniel Hansen, Andrew Harrison, Jordan Lontine, Ra Lawrence, Steve McFarland, Zeke Mendenhall, Kumi Tua’one, Mike Price, Vuikadavu and Rocky Kalamafoni were honored after the game with a BYU Rugby blanket.
“We’ve come a long ways a program since I first started,” Harrison said, “This is a great program and I’m privileged to be a part of it. Fortunately, we get one more game here at South Field and hopefully, we’ll be able to move on past that.”
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