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In its first match of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, BYU edged a scrappy UCLA side 45-16 in Westwood, Calif. BYU jumped out to an early lead and with a tenacious, well-conditioned side, UCLA was never able to recover.
Joseph Nicholls opened the scoring for the Cougars with a try in the fifth minute, and six minutes later Jordan Lowry got his first of two tries on the afternoon. The winger has been a juggernaut out wide all year, but he gave credit to his fellow Cougars for creating opportunities for him to score.
“Thanks to my teammates, I was able to score at crucial times,” said Lowry of his two tries.
UCLA cut into the lead with a penalty, but Kody Thompson extended the BYU advantage to 19-3 halfway through the first half. Freshman Alex Vorster dotted down five minutes later, but a try from UCLA made the game 26-8 in favor of the visitors. Head coach David Smyth was very pleased with the work of his big forwards.
“Led by our front row, Zane Mendenhall, Alex Vorster, and KodyThompson, these boys built a good platform for us to work off. Defensively we were able to get on our tackles early and as a result we created scoring opportunities,” Smyth said.
In the second half, UCLA struck first with a penalty but was unable to earn any more points until the final moments of the contest. Ara Elkington scored in the 53rd minute for BYU to push the lead to 33-11.
For the next 20 minutes UCLA stifled the BYU attack and Cougar coach David Smyth was impressed with the Bruin effort. “Fair play to UCLA. They were aggressive and did a good job at disrupting our momentum, our performance was uneven at times and we had to work hard for what we got.”
The dam finally broke in the 73rd minute, however, as Matt Jensen and Lowry’s second capped of the win for BYU. UCLA earned a consolation try in the 80thminute to finish the game at 45-16.
The Cougars move to 12-0 on the season and are in search of their third consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup championship. BYU will look to get a step closer when it hosts Central Washington in the semifinals next weekend.