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No. 1 ranked BYU wasted little time in asserting their will over seventh-ranked Utah to claim the annual Wasatch Cup, 76-31, in Salt Lake City, Utah Saturday. The Cougars charged out to a commanding 40-10 halftime lead before scoring another six tries in the second half. In total, BYU dotted the ball down 12 times by eight players, including a hat trick by wing Jordan Lowry.
Utah was first to get on the board with the penalty kick in the ninth minute, but the Utes enjoyed the lead for only a minute. Fullback Ryan Blaser and flanker Ara Elkington scored back-to-back tries for BYU with flyhalf Jonny Linehan converting one kick to give the Cougars the 12-3 advantage. The Utes returned the favor with a converted try in the 14th minute to cut the lead to 12-10. The two-point deficit would be the closest Utah would get for the rest of the day.
"The first 10 minutes, like we knew, was fairly up-tempo with Utah pressurizing. They got that penalty, and then we struck fast with two tries, but they hung on, and honestly we made a few mistakes and kept them in the game for that first 15 minutes or so," said BYU coach David Smyth. "Then we settled down and were able to go through the phases and work some of our moves. I thought the boys were fairly clinical in that last 20 minutes of the first half."
From the 26th minute on, BYU took control and ripped off four tries to end the half. Having a banner day, Lowry blasted off scoring three tries, and center Seki Kofe contributed with another. Linehan made all four conversions to bring the tally to 40-10.
"He had a great game today," said Smyth of Lowry. "He ran real great lines. He was supporting on the inside man, and I was very happy with his performance. He played quite well."
The Cougars’ big prop Kody Thompson started the second half with a try in the 44th minute before Utah could answer with a converted try two minutes later. The early scoring would continue with BYU’s Josh Whippy and Elkington scoring in the 48th and 59th minutes, respectively, to increase the lead to 57-17.
Utah would attempt to get back into the match with two converted tries in the 65th and 68th minutes, but the Cougars shut the door on the Utes with three tries of their own in the last 10 minutes of play. Utah could only watch as Joseph Nichols, Thompson, and Ben Keith each scored. As the final whistle blew, BYU routed in-state rival Utah, 76-31, to retain the Wasatch Cup. Though winning the trophy has become old hat for the Cougars, the rivalry hasn't lost any luster in the eyes of the perennial victors.
"It’s huge," said Smyth. "As I talked to the boys this morning in our team meeting, BYU rugby the one game we focus on every year first and foremost is the Wasatch Cup against Utah, because it comes before the playoffs. We don’t event talk about the playoffs until after Wasatch Cup."