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If early season wins indicate success, Arizona and St. Mary’s are well on their way. The Wildcats began their 2018 campaign with a 53-22 away victory over Grand Canyon University and St. Mary’s stomped Santa Clara, 84-0. Arizona will analyze the game film to ready for UCLA in February while the Gaels travel to UC Santa Barbara next Saturday.
Arizona welcomed GCU to D1A with a convincing 53-22 win. Under the Friday night lights in Phoenix, Ariz., the Wildcats ran over the ‘Lopes for eight tries including four from Dante Weeks and a pair from Matt Rogers. Arizona led 22-7 at the half and didn’t let up in the second period. Zach Biggs and Ryan Hudson also found the endzone for the Wildcats and Anton Grigoriou connected on five conversions and a penalty.
Head coach Sean Duffy has emphasized patience in attack, especially in the 22, in the lead up to this game. Duffy was impressed with the play of Weeks and Rogers as well as quality impact substitutes like Tom Molloy and Cody Hunt.
“The fight was there,” Duffy said. “There were some good things guys like Dante and Matty did when we got fast ball, but we must be more clinical. Wet field played a part, but our laziness in some aspects played a larger one.”
As for GCU first game in D1A, head coach Cam Wyper knows there is plenty to work to compete with the top echelon of D1A clubs. “We could have matched U of A a little bit better but they are such a good team. They play super fast and if you give them a sniff or opportunity, they are going to make you pay for it. Unfortunately, we gave them too much ball and with a team like that, you can’t give them that much ball. There are some positives for us but also a lot of work still to go before we can be competitive at that high level against those top D1A team like Arizona.”
GCU has set itself up with a challenging D1A independent schedule this spring with San Diego State next Saturday then BYU on the 27th. Arizona will take a breather until February 3rd when it travels to California for a date with UCLA. After the Bruins, the Wildcats host Utah and Cal on consecutive weekends.
After dispatching Central Washington last weekend, the Gaels took the show on the road to Santa Clara, Calif. on Saturday. The Gaels put on a clinic and shut out the SCUTS, 84-0. What was even more impressive was that St. Mary’s played the entire second half down a player after a first-half red card.
It was business as usual for coach Tim O’Brien after the red card. “We made no adjustments really after the card. [All we did was] adjusted our #9 and short side wings duties and got on with it.”
“Focus has been to show up for work on time, put in an honest effort, recover, do it again, but better again and again and again,” O’ Brien added. “Communication and an understanding of how we want to play seems to be inching along well.”
Derek Ellingson had a banner game for the Gaels scoring five tries and Charlie Loudon, Brandon Calk, and Tommy Wallace each scored two apiece. Aaron Matthews and Payon Telea also crossed the whitewash for St. Mary’s and Mike McCarthy and Wesley Chock combined for seven conversions.
The Gaels stay on the road this Saturday versus UC Santa Barbara and then finish their road trip against San Diego State on the 27th.