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After suffering two straight losses, #4 BYU scored 26 tries in two days as the Cougars picked up two big road wins this week. On Friday, the Cougars ventured to the University of Colorado and blasted the Buffalos for an 82-0 shutout and then blitzed the U.S. Air Force Academy, 74-15, on Saturday. The BYU A side is on a bye next week before facing Saint Mary’s for its home opener on March 11th.
The two games offered an opportunity to get back on the right foot following disappointing performances versus the Glendale Raptors and Saint Mary’s. Against Colorado, head coach David Smyth used the match to use his rotation players. “We wanted to give them an opportunity for a run and more game experience under their belt. It was a cold evening, but they performed very well.”
In the 14-try effort at Colorado, nine different Cougars paraded into the tryzone. Jackson Kaka lead the way with four tries and Sialao Mobley, Peter Wilkinson, and Logan Nye each scored a pair. Coleman Meier, Alex Vorster, Punga Vea, Tosh Wilcox, and Kainalu Shortland rounded out the tally and Jared Whippy kicked six conversions.
For Saturday’s match against Air Force, Smyth knew it would a more challenging task. “Air Force is very fit and very tough. With the game plan in place, today was an exercise in execution through a patient buildup of going through the phases, being smart, and trying to be more accurate. Our boys were able to do that, move the ball through the hands, and score some tries. They put the ball into space and were able to take the opportunity of that space to score tries.”
BYU responded well to the Air Force with Alex Vorster, Tua Leai, Kevin Schofield, and Devon Anderson each dotting down two tries and Connor Parry, David George, and Kingston Matua scoring one apiece. Whippy finished his weekend notching another seven conversions. Dalton Welch and Jason Kyles scored for the Zoomies in the loss and Casey Rothstein and Elliot Higgins added a penalty and conversion, respectively.
Speaking to Rugby Today after the match, Air Force head coach Denny Merideth said, “BYU’s experience and size punished us when we made mistakes. We had some good movements. I was proud to see what the guys put together, but a hurried pass or a hesitation on support and BYU took advantage of every opportunity that we gave them... In the last four weeks, we’ve played three of the toughest teams (Saint Mary’s, Lindenwood, and BYU) in the nation and we’re using that to grow. Kudos to BYU for putting a good game together.”
Coach Smyth said that the victories this week was a good boost for his team before welcoming Saint Mary’s to Provo in two weeks. “With the Saint Mary’s game [two weeks ago], we don’t want to linger on that too long. It was early in the season and Saint Mary’s are a really good team. It was a wet field so we’ll learn from that and we’ll be ready to see Saint Mary’s in a few weeks again. It was definitely good to get the boys back on the winning side of the ledger.”