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Saint Mary's Wins Big One at BYU

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Saint Mary's Wins Big One at BYU

Captain Kaipono Kayoshi led from the front against BYU.

If there has been a knock on Saint Mary's it's been that they haven't played a lot of the major teams in the D1A Top 10.

That changed this weekend as the Gaels traveled to Provo and beat BYU 38-21 in a wild one where Saint Mary's seemed in total control, only to be reminded that there's no such thing.

Saint Mary's has won games by 87, 33, 65, 67, 53, 39, and 97. And while UCLA and Arizona have been sprinkled in there, most of those games are against teams further down the ranking scale. yes they played and beat Central Washington 27-26. That is their closest game by far.

So you could argue they were looking for a challenge. And anyone thinking that the Gaels should be #1 in the D1A rankings needed to see them succeed in that challenge.

Well, that's what happened this weekend.

Playing smart territorial rugby and defending well, in the first half Saint Mary's did well to stifle the vaunted BYU attack. 

With that, the Gaels, led by a sterling effort from No. 8 Kaiponi Kayoshi (their captain) and back-from-injury tighthead John Wilson, executed very well int eh opposition 22.

The result was five tries, four converted, and an imposing 33-0 lead at halftime.

"We did a good job of playing territorial rugby and our defense was organized, " said Assistant Coach Andrew Cook. "But in the second half BYU came out with more fire and more effort than we did. And you'd expect them to raise the level and they did."

Did Saint Mary's ease up? Not really, but Cook said you can play hard and still be complacent.

"We almost let the lead allow us to do things we didn't do when we built that lead," said Cook. "At the same time, BYU put together some really incredible rugby in the second half."

Still the Gaels' defense held on and Kayoshi produced some key jackles or forced holding-on penalties to seal it.

Things don't get much easier for either team. Saint Mary's faces Cal, who just beat the DA #1-ranked Navy, on March 23, while BYU welcomes Life University.

BYU is now 7-3 with losses to Lindenwood, Central Washington, and Saint Mary's.

Saint Mary's is yet to lose to a collegiate opponent.

But, said Cook, "it's Cal, and that's going to be a huge test for us next week."