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In a game that had plenty of playoff implications, Utah emphatically defeated Arizona 53-3 to claim second place in the PAC Conference. Normally a second place finish would not be all that important, but with Cal heading to the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup, second place in the conference gets an automatic berth to the DIA playoffs.
Coming into the game, both teams sat at 2-1 in conference play. Both teams lost to Cal earlier in the year and after beating Arizona State and UCLA were primed for the conference showdown.
Arizona traveled to Utah and found unfriendly conditions. It was cold and wet, conditions not suitable to Arizona’s open style of play.
“It was not a day where Arizona could use their backs. They want to get in to a sevens type of game with plenty of broken play and that is where they score a lot of their tries. They just were not able to do that on Saturday,” said Utah coach Jon Law.
Utah got on the board in the first few minutes with a try. Arizona responded with its only points of the day via a penalty in the fifth minute but Utah quickly added a try and prevented Arizona scoring any more points.
“Our line speed closed on Arizona pretty effectively but our key to keeping them off the board was the amount of possession we maintained,” Law added.
Utah’s forwards had a strong day, with the usual suspects Gabe Rufflin and Chad Gough leading the way. Recent football convert Tevita Malafu, made his presence felt as Utah stormed to a convincing victory.
Arizona will now need to get an at large bid from DIA. Twelve teams make the DIA playoffs and a fairly strong non-conference record should help its cause.
“We got beat and it was a learning experience for the guys,” said Arizona coach Sean Duffy. “Now we know our playoff fate is in the hands of the committee and we need to be better at adjusting to weather and opposition.”