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Provo, UT - BYU hosted Air Force on Saturday in the semi-finals of the Rocky Mountain Conference. The Cougars ran in 18 tries on their way to a 110-0 victory.
The Cougars came out with a desire to exploit their advantage in the set piece. This was evidenced early when Air Force was penalized in the second minute of the match, and BYU opted to kick the ball into touch to set up a mauling opportunity. The lineout was won by eight-man Kevin Sorenson and the BYU forward pack mauled the ball over the line where flanker and vice-captain Tosh Wilcox subsequently scored the team’s first try.
The scoring was evenly mixed between forwards and backs throughout the game. BYU’s dominance in the forwards allowed the BYU backs to showcase their speed and attacking prowess out wide. This interplay between the forwards and backs was on display in the 12th minute of the match when lock James Mocke stole an Air Force lineout near mid-field. The BYU backs immediately passed the ball wide to put Air Force under pressure. The BYU forwards then ran a few tight phases to allow the backs to reorganize, then the ball was swung wide again and wing Ben Webber was able to touch down in the corner for the fourth try of the game.
The Cougars proceeded to score a total of ten tries in the first half and went into halftime with a season high lead of 62-0.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first half. BYU won a penalty off the kick-off and kicked to touch where eight-man Kevin Sorensen again won the lineout and looked to set up a maul. The Air Force forwards attempted to get an obstruction penalty and didn’t contest the maul and Sorensen, sensing the lack of defenders, took the ball himself and dove over the line for his second try of the game.
After an additional three tries from wing Coleman Meier, flanker Seen Tarawhiti, and Wilcox, BYU used all eight of its substitutions at the 57th minute. Despite the reinforcements, Air Force turned up the pressure on the Cougars and spent the next four minutes in the Cougars’ half of the field threatening to score. Amidst multiple BYU penalties, the Cougars’ defensive line held. Desperate to score, Air Force threw an errant pass that bounced into the arms of BYU captain Zach Webber. Webber turned on the speed and scored a length-of-the-field try to push the score to 91 to 0 and dash what would prove to be the best Air Force scoring opportunity of the game.
Later on, in the 69th minute of the match, Air Force had a lineout at mid-field. The Falcons overthrew the jumper and Wilcox was able to gather up the loose ball and sprint through the defense untouched for a 40-meter try, his fourth of the day. In addition to Wilcox’s four tries, six other Cougars scored two tries in the match – wing Coleman Meier, wing Ben Webber, eight-man Kevin Sorensen, flyhalf and captain Zach Webber, flanker Seen Tarawhiti, and reserve wing Porter Thomas.
Thomas was able to score an opportunistic try in the 71st minute off a strong clearing kick from Zach Webber. The Air Force fullback was late in covering the kick and the ball took an awkward bounce right into the hands of the sprinting BYU back who was able to race the final 20 meters untouched to score.
Thomas was not done yet. In the 80th minute, after an Air Force turnover, the BYU backs spun the ball wide to Thomas who went over in the corner for the final BYU try of the match.
The 18 team tries scored by BYU surpasses the previous season high of 17 the Cougars scored in the season opening match versus Wyoming on October 6.
The victory sets up a Rocky Mountain Conference championship match-up with Colorado State on Saturday, November 17th at noon on South Field.
The winner of the Rocky Mountain Conference championship match will receive an automatic bid to the D1A national play-offs which will take place in April 2019.
Scoring Summary -
Tries - Wilcox (2', 8', 57', 69'), Meier (4', 45'), Webber, B (12', 22'), Sorensen, K (17', 41'), Webber, Z (30', 61'), Tarawhiti (32', 48'), Parry, C (35'), Semu (38'), Thomas (71', 80')
Conversions - Whiting (12', 17', 30', 32', 35', 38', 48', 57'), Bigelow (61', 69')
Halftime Score - BYU 62, Air Force 0
Final Score - BYU 110, Air Force 0
BYU team vs Air Force -
1. Devon Anderson, 2. Jacob Tai (Kacey Joyner at 57'), 3. Mike Payne (Josh Stott at 57'), 4. James Mocke (Ben Austin at 57'), 5. Josh Harden, 6. Seen Tarawhiti, 7. Tosh Wilcox-VC, 8. Kevin Sorensen (Joe Palazzo at 57'), 9. Kingston Matua (Ezias Bigelow at 57'), 10. Zach Webber-C, 11. Coleman Meier (Porter Thomas at 57') 12. Cole Semu, 13. Calvin Whiting (Isaiah Taliulu at 57'), 14. Ben Webber (Everet Miller at 57'), 15. Connor Parry