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UCLA used a strong second half to outlast Air Force 27-12 in Westwood, Calif. Saturday. Seb Sharpe led the way with a second half hat trick to propel the Bruins into the second round of the Varsity Cup.
The Bruins opened the scoring early with a penalty from Ben Francis. However, that was all the scoring the home side would do in the first half. A combination of unforced errors and excellent defense from the visitors kept UCLA at bay.
“In the first half we made some errors, forced passes and took some penalties that were not disciplined,” said UCLA coach Scott Stewart. “Credit to Air Force, they were defending and tackling very well.”
Air Force took a 7-3 lead with some hard and direct running. “They had the better of us in the first half,” Stewart added. The Zoomies were led by No. 8 Garrett Jameson and the rest of the pack that put in a very physical and disciplined first half. Air Force only conceded one penalty in the first stanza.
UCLA made some tactical and personnel changes at halftime and was able to score two tries within a minute of each other. After the Bruins scored the first one, the crowd got into the game and immediately off the ensuing kickoff, UCLA broke the line and dotted down to take a 17-7 lead. Sharpe got both scores, and after a penalty, extended the lead to 26-7 with his third score of the half.
“He was under used,” Stewart said of Sharpe in the first half. “We got him in the game and he found the work himself. It was good to see him getting involved in the game and supporting other players on the team.”
The Bruins controlled play for the rest of the game, putting in a real team effort in the second half. Air Force salvaged one more try late in the game to cut the score to 26-12. Unfortunately for Air Force, it was too little too late.
Overall Stewart was very happy with his squad’s performance. “For the most part, I thought we played pretty well in terms of possession and territory.”
The Bruins will host reigning Varsity Cup Champions, BYU, next weekend.