In front of 10,172 fans, BYU defeated Cal for its second consecutive Varsity Cup title. Leading throughout the contest, BYU defeated Cal 44-33 in at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Paul Lasike opened the scoring for BYU off a line break and missed tackle from Cal. Fullback Josh Whippy popped a pass back inside after beating a Cal defender for a 7-0 lead.
Moments later Andrew Battaglia tied the game for Cal off a pass from Jake Anderson. Battaglia scampered down the sideline and dotted down over BYU winger Jordan Lowry. Jake Anderson tied the game with a successful conversion.
The Bears were dealt a significant blow minutes after the Battaglia score when junior Number 8 Tiaan De Nysschen left the game with a significant shoulder injury.
BYU broke the deadlock when Jonny Linehan threw a miss pass to winger Jordan Lowry for a sprint to the corner. Linehan missed the tough conversion making it 12-7 Cougars
Cal was able to build some continuity following the BYU try but unforced errors and missed opportunities killed the Cal attack. A great kick by Russell Webb picked up by Seamus Kelly started a series of phases in BYU territory. The ball was sent wide and Harry Adolphus offloaded it off but the ball was knocked on right by the goal line.
Minutes later Anderson pushed a penalty wide. Electing to go for points from nearly 50 meters, the fullback had the distance but pushed the kick to the right of the posts yielding possession back to the cougars
BYU earned a penalty at nearly the identical spot to the penalty spot from which Anderson missed his attempt. The Cougars elected to kick for touch and scored off the ensuing lineout.
The Cougars showed tremendous discipline and patience. The forwards did a series of picks gaining small chunks of yardage on the fringes. The BYU pack earned the try at the breakdown muscling over after numerous phases.
Unforced errors killed Cal throughout the first half. A Knock on in its own territory and then a penalty for not rolling away resulted in a penalty goal attempt for Linehan. The bears were saved for the moment when the kick attempt hit the upright and bounced back in to Cal hands.
Cal overthrew a lineout and after a Johnny Linehan kick ahead, the Bears back three attempted to link but a poor pass bounced right into the arms of a BYU forward. The Bears were not as fortunate this time around as the ball made its way wide for a Chris Wernli try.
Cal’s sloppy play in the first half limited their offensive chances. However, there competitiveness at the breakdown held the BYU offense in check.
“Our forwards played very well in the first half. But we didn’t hold our nerve very well in the backs,” said Cal coach Jack Clark.
Despite 10 turnovers in the first half, Cal was able to capitalize on a BYU error for a score right before halftime. BYU elected to run from their own goal line and knocked the ball on leading to the Cal score right at half time. On his first touch after entering the game as a substitute, Miles Honens scored a converted try.
At the break BYU led Cal 22-14.
At the start of the second stanza, Russell Webb made a one handed offload leading to Battaglia’s second try in the corner. Anderson missed the conversion making it 22-19 in favor of BYU.
Just when Cal looked to be taking back momentum, the ball scooted out of a ruck and scrumhalf Luke Mocke pounced on the ball, beat a man and scored under the posts. With a Linehan conversion BYU upped its lead to 29-19
Cal turnovers continued in the second half and resulted in another BYU score. Kyle Sumsion ripped the ball away right on the Cal goal line and Johnny Linehan found Josh Whippy on a crash ball for a try. With the conversion, BYU led 36-19.
After a great display of tackling from BYU, Rusell Webb took a one handed offload from Alec Gletzer for a try under the posts. With twelve minutes to play BYU led 36-26.
Cal controlled a lot of the possession in the second half but turnovers stymied the Bears attack. Cal had several line breaks but knocks-on killed any attacking chances in the final minutes.
Josh Whippy put the icing on the cake with his second try of the afternoon. Cal was able to put up a consolation try as time expired but ended up falling short 43-33.
BYU claimed its second consecutive Varsity Cup title with BYU’s Kyle Sumsion being awarded the Man of the Match Award.
“Credit cal they really made us work for it. To beat cal you have got to be physical. Today we were able to do that. All in all our boys did what we had to do win the title,” said BYU coach David Smyth.
They’re the national collegiate champions on merit. Beyond BYU, I’m proud of the Varsity Cup universities which comprised this postseason. It has been a great tournament and we all salute the Cougars as our champion,” Cal Coach Jack Clark added.
Starting with 12 teams and 11 matches later, BYU has earned the right to be called the Varsity Cup champions.