It probably wasn’t the start most area college rugby fans envisioned, even those who were pulling for UVU.
Yet just five minutes into Saturday’s match at BYU’s South Field between the powerhouse Cougars and the upstart Wolverines, it was UVU enjoying the 7-0 lead.
“Was I surprised UVU came out hard?,” BYU head coach David Smyth said. “No. Was I surprised they scored so quickly? A little bit, yeah. But they are working hard over there and this might be the best team they’ve had in awhile.”
Unfortunately for the Wolverines, the Cougars had more than enough time to get organized. BYU roared back in front with its offense and shut the door with its defense, scoring the the next 69 points to get the 69-7 victory.
“I think all in all our boys did well,” Smyth said. “UVU came out tough and challenged us well. They’ve got some big boys and they asked us some questions early. Our guys were able to deal with the pressure, then we got in our patterns. We stayed tight with our forwards and then worked it wide when it was available.”
The Cougars tied the match on a try by sophomore fly half/center Jared Whippy, then went in front in the 25th minute on a penalty kick by sophomore fly half Jonathan “Jonny Rugby” Linehan.
BYU went on to score three more tries in the final 10 minutes of the first half on its way to a comfortable 22-point advantage at the break.
The Cougar offense just kept rolling as Linehan, freshman flanker Ben Keith, sophomore hooker Jacob Hall and junior fullback Ryan Blaser all scored.
The most thrilling play came when Hall and a UVU player appeared to be on a collision course chasing after a Wolverine kick. Hall snatched the ball away, broke a couple of tackles and raced 50 yards for the try.
Linehan and Blaser also connected when Linehan used a soft kick to punt the ball into the UVU end zone and Blaser won the race to the ball for the score.
While the offense provided the fireworks, it was the BYU defense which really kept the game from being interesting.
“Our boys did well standing up to them,” Smyth said. “They got their heads in the game. They had to make those first tackles and get in there and hustle.”
While the final score turned out to be lopsided, Smyth said he likes the direction the Wolverine program is headed.
“They have a good coach who runs a tight ship,” he said. “They have no shortage of athletes so they just need a well-run program. They know what they want to do and are effective. If they put that together, they’ll have success at the end. If they keep moving in this direction, they’ll be in good shape.”
The Cougar head coach thinks UVU could put together a nice run this season.
“They are looking at a playoff run,” Smyth said. “With seeing what I saw today, I think they could do quite well.”
BYU also has its sights set on a big season, as always, and will get a couple of chances next week to see where they are at.
The Cougars first host Cal-Poly on Wednesday night at 7 p.m., followed by a battle with San Francisco Golden Gate, a champion pro team, on Saturday at 1 p.m.
All contests will be played on South Field at BYU.
Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.