by Brett Anker
Photo Credit: Davey Wilson
BYU dominated Arkansas State 68-20 in route to its fourth consecutive Penn Mutual Varsity Cup final. The Cougars pulled away in the late stage of the first half and the early part of the second to win comfortably.
The Whippy brothers accounted for the first 17 points for the Cougars. In the sixth minute, Joshua Whippy intercepted a pass from his outside center position to walk in for the score. His brother and flyhalf, Jared slotted the conversion to take a 7-0 lead. 10 minutes later, the duo combined to double up the lead for BYU. Off a scrum, the Josh ran an inside line off his brother and weaved through the confused Red Wolves defense for 14-0 lead.
“They have been playing rugby all their lives. When it goes well it goes well,” BYU Assistant Coach Wayne Tarawhiti said of the Fijan born twins. “Both those guys appreciate each other’s skills and we allow for them to sort of go for it as well.”
ASU struck back off some excellent phase play. Tabo Maree ended up breaking through the line and dove over to cut the deficit to nine. Jared Whippy got BYU back in score sheet with a penalty but Zin Zan Elan-Puttick added one of his own to keep Arkansas State within range at 17-8.
By the 35th minute however, BYU began to take over the game. Zane Mendenhall and Josh Anderson scored tries before the break, giving the Cougars a 27-8 halftime lead. The home side continued the onslaught in the first 15 minutes of the second half. The Cougars scored in the 42nd minute and Anderson added his second of the match minutes later to extend the lead to 37-8. Matt Jensen then added two more in the span of four minutes to give BYU a 51-8 lead. In total, the explosive BYU attack netted six tries in less than a 20-minute span to blow the game wide open.
“We tried hard to correct some stuff that happened last year. Last year there was a time where we would get out rather quickly but then we sort of would fall asleep,” said Tarawhiti. “This year we concentrated a lot on trying to put teams away.”
The Red Wolves responded with a try from Elan-Puttick but the Cougars would add three more scores before ASU finished off the game with a final score. Anderson tallied his third while Tua Laei and Luke Mocke both made their way into the score sheet.
“Yesterday was a good game for us. We played some pretty expansive rugby. We have been training to get where we peak at the right time. Yesterday was an example of that. We allowed the boys to play a pretty expansive game of rugby and allowed them to play what’s in front of them. Yesterday was a combination of all of that and we did really well,” Tarawhiti said.
BYU will host Cal in the Varsity Cup final on May 7th. The game will be broadcast live on the NBCSN at 2PM MST/4PM EST.