You are here
Arizona booked its trip to the D1A Semifinals with a 48-5 slaughter of the Red River Champion, Baylor. The Wildcats were in control for the entire match scoring seven tries and were five minutes away from the shutout. When the Wildcats received a wake-up call from Utah in mid-March, the team has been on a tear as a late, which they hope to continue against Saint Mary’s in the semifinals on Saturday.
The Wildcats were superb on both sides of the ball. “We did our best to put Baylor under pressure and stay patient. We did our best to capitalize on mistakes, we did both effectively and those were key,” head coach Sean Duffy said.
“We pride ourselves on playing an attacking style defense when we can. Baylor is physical and direct and we knew that,” Duffy added. “It's all about desire and effort as much as it is about the tactical and technical on that side, and we have work to do but I'm pleased with today.”
Arizona dominated the first half scoring four times and preventing Baylor from gaining any momentum. Steven Branham, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Kyle Rogers scored tries, while Luke Thayer connected a penalty and two conversions. At the half, the Wildcats led 22-0.
With tries from Dante Weeks, Kyle Rogers, Sean Coleman, and Matt Rogers in the first 15 minutes of the second half, Arizona demolished any hopes Baylor had from getting back into the match. Baylor prevented the shutout in the 75th minute as Luke Davis got the edge on his defender for the try after a five-meter penalty.
Reflecting on the match, Baylor head coach Mason Hering said, “We got beat by our opponent and ourselves. Arizona played really well and we didn't, that's the bottom line. We made quite a few uncharacteristic mistakes and they certainly took advantage of them. They moved the ball extremely well and exploited some breakdowns in our defense. They certainly deserved to win.”
Duffy gave his Man of the Match to Kyle Rogers. “Kyle scored two, set up another, and led the attack and the team. Steven Branham did a lot of great work, and our Lock combo of Sean Coleman and Bronson Teles were huge.”
Arizona’s main takeaway is that patience pays off. “Not just today, but in the program,” Duffy said. “We went young a few years ago, and those guys like Kyle Rogers, Sean Coleman, Ben Joseph are key guys now in this run. Today, being patient in attack and defense and picking our spots helped us a lot and that was a good step for the team.”
The biggest challenge of Arizona’s season is Saturday when the Wildcats venture to California for a semifinal clash with Saint Mary's. “[The Gaels] are well coached and one of the best-attacking teams in the nation,” Duffy concluded. “We know what to expect and will do our best to play our game while trying to limit theirs.”