When is a 70-12 loss not a disaster? When you play BYU.
The 5-0 Cougars came into Saturday’s match with Arizona averaging a score of 90-8. In fact, the picture was even uglier – throw out BYU’s 40-22 defeat of Utah and their average score has been 102-4.
So the fact that Arizona was about 30% better than most other BYU opponents is something for them to feel good about.
“I thought our players played hard for all 80 minutes today,” said Sitton.
Eight different Cougars had scoring tries during the contest, with Ryan Roundy and Pila Vimahi scoring two tries each, and Sosma Leaaetoa posting three tries. Shaun Davies added four successful conversion kicks for the Cougars.
“We’re happy to win today,” said BYU head coach David Smyth, “It was a bit sloppy at times, but we have a spot in the playoffs and now we just need to work towards getting a home game in the first round.”
With an uncharacteristic set of weather conditions for Tucson the Cougars and Wildcats played in the cold and the rain and it was a tight first 10 minutes as BYU only led by 1 point at 7-6.
BYU’s opening points came from a converted quick tap try by captain No. 8 Ryan Roundy in the 2nd minute while Arizona’s points were tallied off the boot of Arizona’s Mike Getzler, who notched two penalty goals. One of the kicks was scored with room to spare from 49 meters.
As the Cougars’ struggled with their set pieces BYU’s scoring opportunities were few in the opening quarter of the game.
BYU however would still find a way to score with hat-trick-scorer and flanker Hynie Leaaetoa scrambling for his first try from turn over ball in the 25th minute. His effort-based scores were pre-empted by Lock Viliami Vimahi’s burrowing try in the 10th minute.
Center Dylan Lubbe would also step his way into the end zone from 35 meters out 5 minutes later and the Cougars would take a 17-6 lead after two successive missed conversions.
The Cougars also struggled in total with their kicking in the poor conditions, as three BYU kickers were cumulatively successful on just 5 out 12 opportunities. Other kicks during open play were also misplaced into touch bringing a number of ensuing opposition lineouts back into BYU territory.
Leaaetoa would score one of the Cougars’ next two tries to close out the half in the 30th minute.
Another long penalty kick from Arizona’s Metzler in the 32nd minute would round out the Wildcats’ first half scoring.
BYU would get another chance to dot down in the 38th minute as freshman center Jared Whippy blocked a would-be Arizona clearing kick. The blocked kick was regathered by lock Viliami Vimahi 20 meters from the Wildcat tryline.
Vimahi would off-load to a supporting prop Ray Forrester who, after a charging a few short meters, then off-loaded back to the Vimahi. Vimahi would finally link with the original playmaker Whippy who dragged a few Arizona defenders over the line for his 6th try in CPD action.
The Whippy try was converted and at half time it was BYU leading 38-9 with 6 tries to Arizona’s three penalty kicks.
The Cougars would tally another 6 tries in the second and the scoring started quickly in the second half after flanker Apenisa Malani dummied off the kick off to make long 30 meter break.
The recycled ball would end up in the hands of scrumhalf Shaun Davies who kicked a well-placed ball behind the Wildcats defense to change the field position heavily in favor of the Cougars.
After a 5 meter scrum to the Wildcats on their own goal line BYU would pressure and create a turnover. The ensuing phases saw a quick ball from Leaaetoa to freshman flyhalf Josh Webber who lunged for the try in the 42nd minute.
The final penalty goal from Arizona in the 50th minute would make the score 43 to 12 in favor the Cougars.
More pressure from the BYU defense saw Leaaetoa score his third try in the 52nd minute. And Roundy would dot down again in the 55th minute from another quick tap to push BYU further in the lead.
More trouble with the Cougars’ kicking game and two missed conversions would make it BYU 53 Arizona 12.
The Cougars would continue to lay on the tries with hooker Ishmael Tilialo and Vimahi both seeing the endzone in the 62nd and 73rd minutes respectively.
BYU would have reserve wing Konner Wiscombe scoop up a loose ball in the 78th minute and round out the scoring in favor of the Cougars.
Final Score was BYU 70 Arizona 12.
With the less than ideal weather BYU’s Smyth was pleased with his team’s performance on the road.
“The conditions slowed us down a bit,” he said, “It made it sloppy a bit, as did some of our execution and decision-making. But all in all the boys played well against a good team.”
The third straight road blowout win for the Cougars marks the final road game of the regular season.
The Cougars now have the next week off for finals before they prepare for a non-conference tilt with Dixie State College at home on South on April 23rd before they square off with the Sun Devils of Arizona State in their regular season and Western Conference finale.
With a win over the Sun Devils the Cougars would win the overall Western Conference title and guarantee themselves a home playoff game for the CPD quarterfinals the next weekend on May 7.
Tries: Roundy 2, Vimahi 2, Lubbe, Leaaetoa 3, Ja. Whippy, Webber, Tilialo, Wiscombe
Convs: Davies 4, Webber
Pens: Getzler 4