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BYU rugby: Cougars respond to early deficit, win big over Utah Valley

By Kelby Jones

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, March 22 2014 9:46 p.m. MDT

BYU rugby isn’t used to playing from behind, so when the Utah Valley Wolverines scored the first try in the fifth minute of Saturday’s game at South Field, the Cougars knew they needed to respond. The Cougars did just that by putting up 69 straight points after being down 7-0 to the Wolverines, winning by a final score of 69-7.

“UVU came out fired up there at the beginning,” BYU head coach David Smyth said. “Once we dealt with that initial pressure from them, we settled down well and all in all the boys played very well.”

BYU’s Josh Whippy scored BYU’s first try of the game to tie it in the 15th minute, a little over 10 minutes after UVU’s initial try to open the scoring. Ten minutes later, BYU’s Johnny Linehan scored on a penalty kick to put the Cougars up for good. The Cougars would go on to score three more tries in the half to take a 29-7 lead into the half.

“I was a little bit surprised [UVU] scored so quickly,” Smyth said. “They’ve got some big boys and really made us work for it there early.”

The second half was much of the same for the Cougars. Linehan scored in the 45th minute to extend BYU’s lead to 34-7. Jordan Lowry, Ben Keith and Josh Whippy went on to score for the Cougars before the game was over.

The offense wasn’t the only correction the Cougars made after falling behind early. BYU’s defense also stepped up its game and didn’t allow a single point to the Wolverines after their fifth minute try.

"I thought we started a bit slow,” Whippy said. “The boys took some time to get into the game, but once we got going, everything just fell into place.”

With the win, BYU moves to 11-1 on the season and has won six straight games. The Cougars have a heavy schedule coming up next week with a match against Cal-Poly set for Wednesday night in Provo followed by a battle with a very good San Francisco Golden Gate team on Saturday. Both games will be played on South Field in Provo.

“They should be really fun games against really good teams,” Whippy said. “The boys just need to step it up at practice this week and we should be okay.”

While these games will be challenging, the Cougars look forward to the tough matchups. BYU hopes the good competition will help en route to reaching its ultimate goal which is to reach the Varsity Cup Final for the third straight year. The Varsity Cup Final will be held May 3 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, and will be televised live on NBC Sports Network.

Wednesday’s game against Cal-Poly will begin at 7:00 p.m. MDT. Those who can’t attend the game can follow live via BYU’s YouTube channel or on Twitter.

Kelby Jones is a student at BYU studying public relations and currently writes for BYU Rugby.

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