Provo, UT- Continuing its win streak, the no. 1 Brigham Young University rugby team defeated the Arkansas State Red Wolves in the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Semifinals 68-20 at South Field on Saturday, April 23, 2016. The convincing win qualifies the Cougars for the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup Final on Saturday, May 7.
"We expected Arkansas State to play hard and hustle the whole game," said BYU rugby head coach David Smyth referring to last matchup between BYU and A-State in the 2012 national championship where BYU won by seven points. "We knew what was on the line and we had to stay focused after our last match against Arkansas State. The boys remembered what we worked on in practice and it paid off."
Twin brothers, center Joshua and flyhalf Jared Whippy, added the first 14 points for BYU thanks to Joshua's two tries and Jared's two conversions in the first 15 minutes of the match. However, Arkansas State refused to remain scoreless and found the tryline at the 18-minute mark changing the score to 14-5 in BYU's favor.
Then, in the 23rd minute, Jared Whippy completed a penalty kick giving the Cougars another three points. The Red Wolves answered back with a penalty kick of their own in the 30th minute. Arkansas State was held scoreless in the remaining 10 minutes of the first half as BYU's prop Zane Mendenhall and Josh Anderson, a junior wing, added tries of their own giving the Cougars a 27-8 lead at half. Despite the double-digit lead, the Cougars refused to back down in the second half.
"The coaches reminded us what we were working towards and how we need to keep pusing ourselves," said Jared Whippy of his team's mentality going into the second half.
Within the first 13-minutes of the second half, BYU scored four unanswered tries thanks to Anderson and Ricky Tuihalangingie as well as two tries from junior lock Matt Jensen. During BYU's four-try scoring run, Jared Whippy completed 3/4 conversions increasing BYU's lead to 51-8.
At the 56th minute, Arkansas State's persistence paid off in a try and completed conversion changing the score to 51-15. BYU fullback Tua Laei answered back three minutes later with a try, but Jared Whippy's conversion was no good giving the Cougars a 56-15 lead.
Ten minutes later at the 69-minute mark, senior scrumhalf Luke Mocke broke away for a long try. Mocke's own conversion was no good resulting in a score of 61-15 in BYU's favor. Not done with adding points to the board, Anderson completed a hat trick with a try at 74th minute. Kingston Matua, who subbed in for Jared Whippy at the 69th minute sent the ball through the uprights following Anderson's try giving BYU a 68-15 lead. Refusing to give up, Arkansas State scored a try at the 78-minute mark narrowing the margin to 68-20.
"There's no easy way about it when it comes to earning our opportunity to play in our sixth national championship," said BYU forwards coach Wayne Tarawhiti. "The boys played hard today and will need to bring it again in two weeks in the Varsity Cup Final."
1. Zane Mendenhall (59' Logan Nye)
2. Alex Vorster
3. Ricky Tuihalangingie
4. Matt Jensen
5. Jonny Layne
6. Jackson Kaka
7. Ara Elkington (47' Sam Merrill)
8. Joe Pikula (61' Brock Markham)
9. Luke Mocke
10. Jared Whippy (69' Kingston Matua)
11. Joshua Anderson
12. Zach Webber
13. Joshua Whippy (67' Ryan Blaser)
14. Kevin Schofield (72' Sialao Mobley)
15. Tua Laei
6' Joshua Whippy 5, Jared Whippy 2
15' Joshua Whippy 5, Jared Whippy 2
18' Arkansas State 5
23' Jared Whippy penalty kick 3
30' Arkansas State penalty kick 3
35' Zane Mendenhall 5
37' Josh Anderson 5
Half-time BYU 27 Arkansas State 8
Photo credit: Davey Wilson Photography