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Saint Mary's Punishes BYU Errors to Win

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Saint Mary's Punishes BYU Errors to Win

Saint Mary's outside center Erich Storti scored four. David Barpal photo.

Saint Mary’s defeated BYU 60-29 in Provo Saturday in a game where turnovers absolutely killed the Cougars’ chances.

Most of the Saint Mary’s try-scoring sequences started with the Gaels on defense, and either a mistake by BYU or an excellent play by Saint Mary’s—often both—result in points for the Californians.

The first half was back-and-forth and while BYU never led, they were never far away. 

Saint Mary’s opened the scoring with some good pressure defense forcing a turnover, and then a bruising run from center Antoine de la Fontaine put him over.

The Cougars replied almost instantly with a massive, bruising run from center Tayson Hammer, making it 7-5 Saint Mary’s.

Saint Mary’s took the lineout off a penalty, mauled it, and then sent the ball wide where fullback Eddie King nabbed the ball off his bootlaces and took off for the corner, and BYU replied with another thundering run from Hammer. He was caught but set the ruck from which scrumhalf Dylan Parry dove over to tie it 12-12.

Midway through the first half Saint Mary’s appeared to take control. They camped out in the BYU 22, got a penalty, tapped, and sent it wide for wing Jonathan Hackett to slide in. Moments later, from a scrum near midfield, a simple but perfectly-times pass from flyhalf Inoke Waqavesi put center Erich Storti through and he beat a couple of defenders to race in under the posts from 40 meters out.

Now it was 24-12 Saint Mary’s, but BYU didn’t wilt. Hammer made a half-break and fed flanker Cole Semu who did the rest. A high-tackle penalty then put the Cougars under pressure and after a short stand in their 22 they were penalized again. Storti tapped and squirmed his way over to make it 29-19.

Back came BYU with some good continuity and a quick series of passes that found lock Austin Benjamin on the wing. Try for the Cougars, and a 29-24 halftime score. 

It all looked on a knife edge, but bad turnovers hurt BYU badly in the second period. Seven minutes into the second half some relatively predictable BYU passing allowed Storti to pick his moment and intercept the ball before racing 60 meters to go under the posts. Scrumhalf Karl Keane hit the conversion and it was now 36-24. Just a few minutes later Storti had the ball again and punched a grubber through the line. Hackett outraced a relatively slow BYU cover and dove on the ball in-goal for his side’s seventh try.

Now it was 41-24. BYU scored on a pick-and-go from forward Devin Dunn to close it to 41-29, and looked to add more when they intercepted a ball—but, the play was called back for a high tackle, and instead of getting the score within five, BYU was defending a lineout in their end. Quick ball and good vision saw Waqavesi lead a pass for lock Angelo Aquirre, who galloped in.

Up 46-29 Saint Mary’s then stymied another BYU attack with quick line speed. The ball bounced off a shoulder and Storti nabbed it before going 55 meters for his fourth try of the day.

Yet another turnover led to Waqavesi chipping ahead, gathering his own kick, and rolling over to score the last.

So, yes, 60-29, and in many ways a score that reflected the game. But in many ways it did not. BYU were undone by some very costly mistakes when they had the ball, and they found that against Saint Mary’s, you make those mistakes at your peril.

Waqavesi was sublime with his ability to see who was free to make ground, and his skip passes are sent on a line, not loopy, and that alone makes him very dangerous. Storti was perhaps the big star, but the work rate of the Saint Mary’s forwards to defend, win quick ball, and put BYU under pressure can’t be ignored.

Saint Mary’s 60
Tries: E. Storti 4, Hacket 2, de la Fontaine, King, Aguirre, Waqavesi
Convs: Keane 5

BYU 29
Tries: Hammer, D. Parry, Semu, Benjamin, Dunn
Convs: Hammer 2