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Cal Just Gets By BYU

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Cal Just Gets By BYU

Cal vs BYU (blue and black) from Saturday. Photos David Barpal

Cal scored a try at the end of the game to haul in Brigham Young University and turn a 21-17 deficit into a 24-21 victory Saturday in Berkeley.

It was a back-and-forth affair at Witter Rugby Field, and Cal needed every minute to get past the Cougars.

"I'm really proud of our guys for staying at it," Cal Head Coach Jack Clark said. "We were impressed with BYU; they're a really good side. It was a hard game of rugby and we are appreciative for the battle."

Cal kept the Cougars on their heels in their own territory for the opening 20 minutes of the match and junior Max Schumacher managed to push Cal's first try across in the 21st minute. However, a quick turnover after the ensuing kickoff allowed BYU to get on the board just three minutes later with a try from Tevita Ika and a conversion from Tayson Hammer to put the Cougars on top 7-5. The Bears responded with two more tries to close out to half, heading to the break with a 10-point, 17-7 lead.

Ten minutes into the second half, BYU struck again with a converted try Spencer Ika doing the honors this time— to pull within three points at 17-14. And at the 64th minute scrumhalf and captain Dylan Perry went over for the go-ahead try making it, with Hammer's third conversion, 21-17 Cougars. 

Cal went on the attack for the remaining six minutes of the match, trying to force its way back from behind to regain the lead. Then, with less than a minute remaining and just meters from the try line, senior Nick Bloom managed to break away to score what proved to be the game winner. Moments later, junior Nate Salter put his conversion attempt through the sticks to give Cal the final score of 24-21.

Four Bears scored tries in the contest, including Schumacher, Bloom, sophomore Will Shankland and senior Nathan Zylstra.

"The match was aggressive today," senior captain Sam Golla said. "BYU was class. They were low and they made their tackles. We knew we had to double down on our focus, stay calm, stay collected and continue to make our tackles. That was our plan from the get-go. We knew we had to make a change after we were down: grind, continue to work them down with our pace and hold onto the ball. We fell off a couple of times, but we stuck with it which allowed us to score in the final minute."

"The guys played their hearts out," said BYU Head Coach Steve St. Pierre. "It was a tough result for us based on how we played. Cal was a great team and it was a great game."

Cal 24
Tries: Schumacher, Shankland, Zylstra, Blooms
Convs: Slater 2

BYU 21
Tries: T. Ika, S. Ika, D. Parry
Convs: Hammer 3