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After BYU exited the Varsity Cup, the D1A competition knew a major competitor would be entering the fray this postseason. For the first time since 2012, BYU is back in the D1A Playoffs and has advanced to the semifinals with a thorough 46-17 victory over Indiana. With the win, the Cougars earned a rematch of the 2012 semifinals against Life. BYU won 26-20 in Marietta, Ga. four years ago and aims to repeat it again on Saturday.
As for Indiana, “It was a tough game,” BYU head coach David Smyth said. “Our defense stifled them pretty well. They were looking for more gaps and space and we shut them down pretty well through the phases. On offense, it was just staying at it. Being patient, recycling the ball, and waiting for the opportunities to arise.”
On the road in Bloomington, Ind., BYU started quick and didn’t let up. Zach Webster, Jackson Kaka (2), and Logan Nye found the try zone for the Cougars in the first 30 minutes of the game with Calvin Whiting converting two of the scores.
Indiana fought back in the final five minutes of the half with two tries to trail 24-10 at the half. At 36’, Jake Ney punched it through after four phases of attack and at the buzzer, Bryce Campbell shot through a gap to run over three defenders on his way to the try.
The second half was all BYU as it displayed why it is one of the top collegiate rugby programs in the nation. Josh Whippy started the try parade at 49’ followed by Kevin Schofield at 53’, Tua Laei at 57’, and Schofield again at 70’. Indiana continued to fight throughout the match and ended the test with a multiple phase try by Jake Ney. In the end, BYU earned the 46-17 win and will travel cross-country to Georgia on Saturday.
Coach Smyth praised Indiana for its physical play and tenacity on the pitch. “I liked the way Indiana played and how they approached the game. They were a physical outfit. They had some good systems and I thought their boys definitely put their best foot forward representing their team and their school.”
Talking with Indiana head coach Sopa Enari after the game, he said, “BYU is big and tall. They have a good organization to use their size, weight, and talent well. [We proved] we can play the highest level of competition in the country. We need to recruit more size and height [to be successful in the postseason].”
With Life on the horizon in the D1A Semifinals on Saturday, it will be a short work week with preparing and travel. “We haven’t seen them play in a few years, but I know they are a very good program, very well prepared and have a lot of very good rugby players there,” Smyth said. “If we can build [on what we did against Indiana] and be patient while we’re on the attack, we’ll work on those things this week to get ready for Life... We got our work cut out for us.”