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St. Mary's Powers Past ASU

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St. Mary's Powers Past ASU

SMCC skipper Cooper Maloney will be happy with the Gaels' performance Saturday. Michael Geib photo.

The opening kickoff of Arizona State’s game against St. Mary’s didn’t go ten meters, and from that ensuing midfield scrum, the Gaels scored a brilliant try, making for a distressing opening minute for the Sun Devils.

Photos by Michael Geib
St Mary's v Arizona State Michael Geib photo
St Mary's v Arizona State Michael Geib photo
St Mary's v Arizona State Michael Geib photo
St Mary's v Arizona State Michael Geib photo
Despite some hard work by Arizona State and some close calls for tries, they fell 59-15 to a surging St. Mary’s team at the California college’s St. Mary’s Stadium in Moraga, Calif.

The opening try did indeed come from that scrum center. Scrumhalf Holden Yungert skated right, drew some defenders, and popped a perfect pass to onrushing fullback Cooper Maloney, who raced 50 meters for the try. It was all too much too fast for Arizona State. 

Six minutes later St. Mary’s scored again. After a prolonged attack, the Gaels got a scrum five meters out. Recovery of the ball at the back wasn’t particularly clean, but powerful No. 8 Vili Helu finally gathered up the rock and bulled over. The next try was some good work by everyone leading to lock Henry Hall powering through.

ASU seemed to score soon after that. Fullback Alex Sandstrom grubbered ahead and might have grounded the ball first. It was all flying bodies and a bouncing ball. Referee said St. Mary’s tucked it down first, and the Gaels escaped.

ASU did get a penalty, though, to make it 21-3.

After that they pushed through again, with Dylan Audsley finishing off the movement. Audsley hit his fourth straight conversion for a 28-3 halftime lead.

The second half seemed to be more of the same. St. Mary’s just hit the gain line with so much aggression, that Arizona State, while making most of their tackles, were doing so as they moved backward. As usual the St. Mary’s ball handing was solid, and their forward pack’s power began to show. Hall scored his second, and then a break by Maloney led to a penalty and what seemed to be another try for the Gaels. But this time obstruction negated that score.

Arizona State tried to shake things up by running penalties, including one from deep inside their 22. But the St. Mary’s defense was quick to the ball and, struggling to break through the way they wanted, Arizona State was forced to kick. Tat, of course, was exactly what St. Mary’s wanted. 

Still ASU battled on and flanker Keenan Mayfield showed that he hadn’t forgotten the days when he used to be a back, exploiting a gap in the St. Mary’s defense to go in from ten meters out. St. Mary’s replied quickly, with prop Dino Waldren thundering over in a pile of players. Mason Colombo then scored off a bobbled ball, and Mike McCarthy scored quickly after that to make it 52-10.

The best try that wasn’t was probably the player where Kingsley McGowan gathered the ball inside his own 22, shrugged off two tacklers, popped a high kick, caught it on the fly, and raced into the ASU half. It was so improbable that the Gaels’ couldn’t quite make it work. Eventually they did send Waldren over on a short ball off the ruck, and ASU finished the scoring with a try out wide.

The rough start hurt Arizona State, which generally made St. Mary’s work for their points. But the Sun Devils resorted to the kick too often against an opponent that loves to run in the open field. More than that, the St. Mary’s early-phase runs into contact were brutally effective.

St. Mary’s 59, Arizona State 15.