|Micheal Geib photos|
Utah Valley University finished third in the Pacific Coast, yet the Wolverines will be carrying the Pacific Coast torch to the DII semifinals May 18 in Sandy, Utah.
UVU fell short against Santa Rosa JC in an overtime thriller in the PacCoast semis last month. Saturday in the national round of 16 in Palo Alto, Calif., they crushed SRJC 30-5.
“The first time we played them it was really kind of out of our hands,” said UVU coach Clint Wilson, whose Wolverines fell on the wrong side of the whistle in the territorial playoffs.
“It’s just hard to play when that many yards went away to penalties. It was a lot more equally played out (Saturday) and we actually were able to show what we can really do this time.
“This time our game plan was able to go into motion, the game wasn’t stopped so much, there was more flow to it, and we were able to put some set pieces together and phases together, so it was good.”
Sunday the Wolverines went up against Cal State Long Beach, who ousted Pacific Coast champs Sierra 14-11 the day before.
UVU lost standout fullback Cameron Loser to a broken leg late in the first half and Jacob Hall and Matthew Lefrandt to the sin bin in the second half, but had enough man-and-fire power to down Long Beach 34-13.
UVU led just 10-8 through the opening 38 minutes, but went on a 24-5 run the final 42 minutes.
“They were tough, they gave us a real physical game, they were fit, theyt last the whole time, so they didn’t in any way hand it over,” said Wilson of Long Beach. “Our guys were able to close the deal a little bit more when we had the advantage, so it worked out.”
UVU will be playing in front of a largely partisan crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah, as their campus in Orem, Utah is about a half-hour drive from the venue. The vast majority of the UVU lineup is from the greater Salt Lake City area, and several have played inside Rio Tinto before.
With three Utah teams and BYU likely to be playing for a national title on the same weekend in the same venue, home field advantage could be a serious factor.
“They do the state finals there for high school, and they’ve had the nationals there a couple of times, so some of these guys have wanted to play or been able to play there over the years,” said Wilson.
“And now that they’re in college, it could be a real good weekend for Utah if we could win all these divisions at home. We’re definitely going to be lucky to have a big crowd there.”