by Brett Anker
Central Washington used a strong second half to get by UCLA 44-15 in the first round of the Penn Mutual Varsity Cup. After going into the break tied, the Wildcats scored in the opening seconds of the second half and several times more in quick succession to eliminate the Bruins.
The first half was very much a back and forth affair. In his first game in a Wildcat uniform, Darren Cooper found pay dirt five minutes in to give CWU the early lead. Ten minutes later, the Bruins got on the board with a penalty but Korbin Lindell got the second try for CWU to extend the lead to 10-3. Seb Sharpe responded for UCLA, however, earning a try and evening the game at 10-10.
Due to a heavy wind, Central Washington could not play an expansive game in the first half. Combined with a high penalty count, and poor play at the breakdown, the Wildcats could not muster any more points.
“We were playing into the wind in the first half. The game plan was a little more restricted. Kind of keep things in tight and just really just be patient and maintain possession and keep them off the score sheet,” said CWU coach Tony Pacheco. “To be honest, UCLA were better over the ball than us in the first half.”
The second half could not have started any better for the Wildcats, though, as UCLA let the kickoff bounce deep its in own territory. Dom Lindstrom capitalized on the mistake diving in for the score less than 10 seconds into the half.
“I’ve been part of rugby for quite a while now and I haven’t seen a kick quite like that,” Pacheco noted. “That’s a hustle play by Dom there, he’s the kick chase guy on that and he got in the right spot.”
Lindstrom notched his second minutes later off a failed kick to touch. Ian Wright got the third try of the half off a counter attack assisted by Seth Halliman and Tanner Barnes scored right after that to increase the lead to 37-10. In less than 12 minutes, CWU tallied four tries and broke away from UCLA.
Clint Lemkus added the fifth Wildcat try of the half before UCLA stemmed the momentum with a try. It was too little too late, however, and CWU added one more for good measure to seal the match.
Central Washington will play the University of Utah next weekend.