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In its first match in over a month, the University of Utah blasted Utah State University, 83-21. In preparation for its clash with Arizona next Saturday, the Utes ripped off 13 tries by ten different players. Chad Gough led Utah with a hat trick and freshman Kelsin Pupunu excelled at both fullback and outside center with two tries.
“Knowing that we needed a focused effort against Utah State to set ourselves up for a big match against a very good Arizona team next week, our emphasis was on an intense 80 minutes of work,” Utah head coach Jon Law said. “This was perhaps the most creative and flowing game of rugby I’ve seen a Utah side play. The boys ran excellent support lines, communicated well, and ball carriers did well to give life to the ball.”
Utah was dominant from the opening whistle only taking two minutes to score the first try. In the first half, Brad Jackson, Levi Hunt, Alex Egan, Daniel Salazar, Chad Gough (2), Kelsin Pupunu, and Gabe Rufflin scored for the Utes as opposed as two tries for the Aggies. At the end of the period, Utah led 50-14.
Caleb Meyer started off the scoring in the second half with Pupunu, Gough, Ivan Draskovich, and Connor Hoff piling on for the ultimate 83-21 victory.
Coach Law boiled down the win to communication. “We knew our systems would create space and communication allowed us to move the ball into space effectively. Very proud of the boys for putting in so much hard work while their peers were away on spring break.”
It was a team effort for Utah as six tries were scored by the backs and seven for the forwards. Law praised the effort of Kelsin Pupunu and Caleb Meyer but indicated that Chad Gough crushed it with his intensity of play on the pitch. “Gough is playing on another level. Not only did he grade at 100% positive grade tackling, he scored three tries and set up four others.”
As for March 25th against Arizona at home, Utah will look to take over second place in the PAC and aim for a high seed in the D1A playoffs.
“We expect Arizona to be systematically sound defensively and to have an attack run by fleet athletes who've developed their core skills nicely,” Law stated. “Coach Duffy and his staff have had several successful recruiting classes that are now all running the same direction. So, we know we have our work cut out for us.”
“We, on the other hand, are led on the field by a highly talented core of upperclassmen complimented by a group of youngsters with real potential,” Law concluded. “I expect this will be an exciting match between two teams that can play right up to the boarders.”