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CWU at Cal and BYU at Saint Mary's Heat Up DIA Quarters in the West

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CWU at Cal and BYU at Saint Mary's Heat Up DIA Quarters in the West

BYU and Saint Mary's meet up again. David Barpal photo.

Getting to Central Washington's campus is difficult enough, but it turns out leaving can be even tougher.

Cal Poly found that out when snow closed the Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 on Saturday night after the Mustangs lost to CWU last week. When the Pass is closed, there's not much you can do but wait it out. Another night in a hotel and rescheduled flights and Cal Poly limped home late on Sunday. Central Washington themselves are now hoping for good weather do they can make their way down to the Bay Area to take on Cal in the DIA Quarterfinals.

This is one of two Quarterfinals on the West Coast.

Cal has been consistent not only in results but in the way they play. It doesn't really matter whether there's enough snow to close the Pass or enough sun to melt it, you get the feeling the Bears can handle whatever is sent their way. Physical and experienced (even their young props have been playing a long time) in the forwards, they are led by Scholz Award Nominee Sam Golla and they don't give up the ball. Simple as that. Blessed with several players who can get them points, Cal will punish penalties if you defend well enough to keep the tries at a minimum. Unfazed, they are able to pull out close games (Saint Marys, BYU) and if you don't have everything buttoned up on kickoff, they're liable to score on your quickly.

The combination has resulted in 12 straight 15s victories, and only a couple of instances when the result has been in doubt.

Central Washington already knows all this. They played Cal on March 11, didn't start well and were down a try within two minutes. Cal didn't make it too easy to dig out of that hole and the bears beat the Wildcats 48-19. 

"We want to slow their attack down," said Central Washington Head Coach Todd Thornley. "We need to put a lot of effort into spoiling their possession. Because if you don't slow them down you're under your own posts pretty quickly."

Cal did a good job of disrupting Central's lineout back in March and so they are working to make that platform cleaner. And they did have opportunities, scoring three tries in that loss. One of those tries was scored by Scholz Award nominee Jack Wendling, but Wendling suffered an injury against Cal Poly and won't suit up this weekend. It's a massive blow for Central any way you cut it. Freshman Drew Farrington, a potential Wendling in the making, said Thornley, will step into the #13 jersey. Farrington is athletic, tough, can tackle, and has a good understanding of the game. But Wendling was Central's outside center for the better part of five years. That experience, and the confidence that comes from experience, is tough to replicate.

Kickoff Noon PT April 16. Watch Here>>

Three Times a Rivalry

Saint Mary's and BYU have already played twice. The Gaels won the first clash 39-28 and the second 60-29. It's that second one that's a little weird, because for both coaches it didn't feel like 60-29.

"We were trading tries back and forth," Saint Mary's Head Coach Tim O'Brien told GRR. "We just got some bounces later and pulled away."

"We gave up I think three intercept tries in that game," added BYU Head Coach Steve St. Pierre. "They changed the momentum for sure. We certainly felt that we were in that game."

Saint Mary's, then, is excited but wary about hosting the Cougars again. They go into the game carrying a couple of injuries with loose forwards Chase Jones, Francoise Pieterse, and Miles McCormick, all talented back rowers, out with injury. But the Gaels have players who can come in and they have a dynamic attacking philosophy epitomized by center Erich Storti, who keeps being the one to score off those interceptions and quick turnovers.

BYU, meanwhile, has the halfback pairing of Dylan and Wyatt Parry, who are working together seamlessly like you'd expect brothers to do. In Tayson Hammer they have a powerful presence in the midfield who can kick goals, and their forward pack is huge and imposing. 

"We have to cut down on our mistakes for sure," said St. Pierre. "They are so good at punishing you for those. But we're happy to be playing them again. We feel we have more to do."

Kickoff Noon PT April 16. Watch Here>>