BYU may have outscored Navy 64-12, but they didn’t feel like it Saturday.
“We wanted to get out to a lead because we knew they would come after us,” said BYU Head Coach David Smyth. “And they did, and they didn’t stop. We felt we needed to play our game and also keep our own ball. I think we did that very well in the second half. It was a good performance because Navy was never, ever going to give up.”
And that was true. Navy ended the match pushing on the BYU goal line. The game was lost, but the Midshipmen weren’t going to stop until the whistle told them.
Looking back at the game, Smyth might see a team that has been deadly to just about every team they played (save, perhaps, their second-half performance against Utah March 5). But Smyth also sees flaws.
“The game got very messy at times, and when you turn the ball over at this level it can cause you problems,” Smyth said, adding that it didn’t help that they normal go-forward man, Ryan Roundy, was contained somewhat early on. “They were ready for Roundy, so we had to adjust.”
In the end, they did. They all stepped up, especially the pack, said Smyth. Apenisa Malani might have scored three tries, but it was the flanker’s hard work and opportunism that earned him praise. Lock Viliami Vimahi was also outstanding, while wing Zeke Mendenhall had, said Smyth, the best game of his college rugby career.
Meanwhile Navy comes back from that game feeling frustrated. They are an outstanding rugby team, that didn’t feel as if they’d played their best these past two weeks.
“Overall it’s been a good year for us,” said Head Coach Mike Flanagan. “And we ended it right. In the 79th minute we were camped on their tryline. BYU has some excellent players – their #9 and #10 … you can’t catch ‘em. We turned the ball over, which we knew we couldn’t do, and they really punished us. They are a very good rugby team, and we’ll take what we can from this game and keep trying to get better.”