A three-peat in Provo! BYU Rugby beats Cal 43-33

BYU celebrates with the Varsity Cup - Kevin Kennedy

For the third time in a row, the Cougars win the National Championship giving them their fifth title overall.

In front of more than 10,000 fans the Cougars came out and played physical and left with another win and another National Championship. For the second year in a row BYU beat Cal to take home the hardware.  This time the Cougars didn't need a dramatic drop kick to win the game as they walked out with a 43-33 win.  With the second straight Varsity Cup, the Cougars have now won four of the last six titles and are set to continue their dominance.

First Half

As the pro-BYU crowd started their BYU chant, the two teams traded possessions but kept the ball mostly in Cal territory as poor Cal passing kept them from moving down the field.  Paul Lasike, starting for the injured Jared Whippy, showed his power running early as the Cougars pushed down field.  Just before the five minute mark, a brilliant pass from Josh Whippy found Lasike as he slipped through the defense and scored the first points of the game.  With a converted kick by Jonathan Linehan the Cougars led 7-0.  Soon after, in the 8th minute, Andrew Battaglia of Cal broke through the Cougar defense and ran almost half the length of the field as he scored their first try of the game.  After a converted kick the score was knotted at seven.

In the 13th minute the Cougars moved down the field and a sensational pass from Linehan to Jordan Lowry led to the Cougars second try of the game and after a missed kick the Cougars led 12-7.  It appeared as if Cal was going to answer back when a turnover deep in Cougar territory stopped the rally.  The Bears did have a chance to put some more points on the board when they were awarded a penalty and chose to kick from the 50 meter line.  The kick sailed right and the teams continued to trade possessions.

After a penalty put the Cougars inside the 22 meter line, the Cougar forwards powered their way towards the try line before Joe Pikula powered in for the try.  With another missed kick the Cougars led 17-7.  BYU tried to increase their lead as they were awarded a penalty kick from the side, but Linehan was unable to convert as the kick hit the post.  Just one minute later another Cal turnover led to a pass from Ara Elkington to Chris Wenli that led to more points for BYU.  After the missed kick the Cougars led 22-7 and looked to have control of the game.  Just before the half Cal showed that they were still in the game when they converted a BYU turnover into a try and pulled within 22-14 at the half.

Second Half

Cal came out strong to start the second half and with precision passing they moved deep into BYU territory and Battaglia scored his second try of the game at the 46 minute mark.  With the kick missed, the Cougars held onto a slim 22-19 lead.  This would be as close as the Bears would get as the teams continued to play physical and pushed each other to their limits.  The Cougars controlled the game, but couldn't quite put away the Bears.

In the 51st minute the Cougars tried to create a little separation as Luke Mocke picked up a loose ball and found a way to squeeze through for another try and after a converted kick the Cougars led 29-19.  Over the next few minutes the teams played for field position and Linehan proved once again his kicking ability.  Twice while deep in BYU territory Linehan kicked the ball to past the Cal 22 meter line to give take back the field.

In the 60th minute, BYU stripped the ball from Cal and a dynamic pass from Linehan to Whippy gave the Cougars a 36-19 lead after the made kick.  Cal fought back as they pushed inside the Cougar seven meter mark, but the BYU defense stood strong.  After numerous attempts to move forward, but falling back, the Cal forwards were finally able to get the ball into the try zone and after the made kick they pulled back within 10 at 36-26.  With time running down and both teams wearing down, the Cougars continued to push and had chances with a long run from Whippy and another from Will Taylor that would have put the Bears away if they had been converted.  With three minutes left in the game, another Josh Whippy try put the game away and gave the Cougars the 43-26 lead.  Cal would tack on one more try to end the game to give us the final 43-33 score.

Notes

Both Coaches couldn't give enough credit to the other team as the game turned out to be another thriller between the teams.  Captain Kyle Sumsion gave credit to not only the players on the field, but to all 64 players on the team and called it a true "64 man win".  Cal has one more championship to chase as they will participate in the Sevens tournament and look to repeat their tournament win from last year.

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