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Saint Mary's Ekes One Out Over BYU

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Saint Mary's Ekes One Out Over BYU

Saint Mary's vs BYU. Photo courtesy Saint Mary's Rugby.

Saint Mary’s beat BYU 25-24 Saturday in dramatic fashion, scoring on the final play of the game in a contest that the Cougars must have felt was within their grasp.

BYU hit Saint Mary’s hard early and put the Gaels under pressure. Putting together of their best offensive efforts against strong opposition in some time, BYU looked more polished, and were certainly more aggressive than they have been in recent visits to Moraga.

Saint Mary’s tried to match the BYU intensity and did, at times, But misfires at the lineouts and repeated knock-ons in contact, including a few times right at the goalline, almost lost the game.

BYU led early 7-0 and led 14-5 late in the first half. But the Saint Mary’s quick-strike ability put the Gaels ahead 15-14 at halftime.

Back came BYU, and they retook the lead 21-15. Saint Mary’s was able to reply, but with the conversion attempt from in front of the posts missed, trailed 21-20. BYU had scored three tries and Saint Mary’s four, but it’s a game of goalkicking, too, and the Gaels goalkicking wasn’t there.

With time almost up BYU took a shot at goal to extend the lead to 24-20. This meant Saint Mary’s would have to score a try to win it.

Saint Mary’s worked phase after phase, punishing some BYU penalties and getting closer and closer to the tryline. Ronan Murphy charged ahead but he lost the ball as he neared in-goal. BYU recovered the ball and kicked to touch, thinking time was up.

But referee Marquise Goodwin had more time left on his clock—enough for one more play. With advantage for the knock-on apparently having been called over, Saint Mary’s took the lineout, and with just about everyone on the team pushing, shoved the ball over. Saint Mary’s 25, BYU 24.

It was a tough result for BYU, who defended superbly through long periods and, with a little bit of luck, might have been able to ice the game on a couple of occasions.

But win or lose, BYU looked a much improved side, while Saint Mary’s will have to do a bi of soul-searching when it comes to ball security.

"It’s very important for the program [to play BYU] and being able to compete and see where we’re at during the year," said Saint Mary's captain Aaron Matthews, who suited up at center in this game. "We play them twice … we’ll play them away in March. And so we’re just hoping to look for improvements by the time we play them again."

And they will need to improve.

"It was a close game," added Saint Mary's co-captain Ronan Murphy, who scored the game-winner. "I thought at times we had a few mistakes that put us in a hole but collectively as a group we worked together ... we were team-oriented, team-focused the whole way through.”