On a cold rainy day in Provo, the BYU men's rugby team looked to be all business on senior night as they attempted to solidify a spot in their 9th straight Championship game. Navy came in looking to build on their big win last week and were looking to provide at least one more game for their 10 players that will be deployed in the next few week. As the diehard fans braved the weather to watch their teams one last time, the players took the field and blocked out the elements in order to focus on the game.
The first half started with both teams trying to feel each other out and trying to gain any advantage that the wet conditions would allow. Neither team really threatened in the early going as they traded multiple kicks as they maneuvered for field position. Just over four minutes into the game, the Cougars pushed their way deep into Navy territory when Johathan Linehan slipped the ball over to Jared Whippy as he was being tackled and Whippy ran in for an easy try. With Linehan converting the kick, the Cougars took a 7-0 lead. Just four minutes later BYU again forced their way down the field, after a blocked kick, and with some timely passing they again scored on a try by Chris Wernli. The kick was missed so the score stayed at 12-0. Shortly afterwards the Cougars had a concerning moment as Jared Whippy went out with an injury to his hand and didn't return. The crowd cheered his replacement at Paul Lasike, a running back for the football team as well, saw his first playing time of the day. The nature of the injury didn't appear serious and he is expected to be ready next week.
With the weather continuing to cause problems with footing and ball handling, the next few minutes involved a number of turnovers and a kicks. After Zane Mendenhall stole a pass, BYU continued to move down the field and positioned themselves for a penalty kick which Linehan converted for a 15-0 lead. Back and forth play continued to be a bit sloppy until the 29 minute mark when a Navy turnover and a behind the back pass from Linehan led to a powerful run and try by Lasike. Even without pads, Lasike showed his skills as he flattened a Navy player in rout to the try. With the kick being converted, the Cougars took a 22-0 lead. Just before the half the Cougars again put points up on the board as Zane Mendenhall faked the pass on a show pass and rumbled in for another try. With the converted kick the Cougars went into the locker room with a 29-0 lead.
The Cougars didn't waste any time in putting the hammer down on the Midshipmen. At the 41 minute mark, Josh Whippy took the ball just outside the 22 meter mark and weaved in and out of Navy players, forcing missed tackles, as he took the ball three-quarters of the field for they try. With the missed kick the Cougars led 34-0 and it appeared that all hope for Navy was gone. The teams continued to fight hard but there was a lack of urgency as the weather continued to cause field conditions to deteriorate. After trading field position for the next 15 minutes, the Cougars again broke through as they displayed precision passes and got the ball to Wernli for his second try of the game. Another missed conversion left points off the board but BYU still held a 39-0 lead.
In the last 20 minutes of the game, the rain became a downpour and erased any chances of a Navy comeback and the free playing Cougars finished the game off in style. At the 65 minute mark, the Cougars found themselves deep in Navy territory and BYU stole a scrum and Joe Pikula forced himself into the try zone and BYU led 46-0 with the made kick. The Cougars were able to get some subs into the game and they took advantage. In minute 72, BYU forced their way down field and with a quick tap, Steve Saia was able to lumber in for another try. The kick conversion was good and BYU held a 53-0 lead. The Cougars would finish the scoring as Josh Anderson split the defenders and slid into the try zone for the final try of the game. With the final kick conversion, BYU walked out with the 60-0 win, in a game that never felt like Navy was in.
Next week the Cougars will play in the National Championship game at Rio Tinto Stadium against the Cal Bears. The game will start at 2 pm and will be televised live on NBC Sports Network.