BYU is in the College Premier Division semifinals after they won a wide-open, and sometimes sloppy, sometimes exciting quarterfinals match over Navy Saturday 64-12 at BYU’s South Field.
The Cougars played an adventurous style, tackling the Midshipmen hard, and trying to force turnovers whenever possible. They got enough of them to rack up the tries early. After a Shaun Davies penalty kick got them started, a daring skip pass from Dylan Lubbe found Andrew Harrison, who squeezed through some desperate Navy tackling to score.
Down 10-0, Navy put the pressure on and we very close to scoring soon thereafter. They took penalties deep within the BYU 22, but opted for the tap rather than a shot at goal. The Cougars held, sometimes illegally, and then ripped the ball free. Viliami Vimahi raced downfield and then linked with Adam Kuchin for a backbreaking try. Up 17-0 BYU took any gap they could see. Navy continued to battle, but had to made every one-on-one tackle, which was tough against a group of powerful athletes such as BYU.
One miss and hooker Ray Forrester was away. We was hauled in but the Cougars spun the ball quickly to freshman center Jared Whippy, who cut back in to score. 22-0.
Navy tried to score quickly to get back in the game, but that just meant they forced it – more turnovers. The Midshipmen tackled and forced a few drops of their own – both teams are captained by hard-running No. 8s, Ryan Roundy for BYU and Sean Rohrs for Navy, and both of those men made a lot of ground, and turned the ball over too much in contact.
Finally Navy did find paydirt. A series of patient lunges forward saw them pile over the line. Flanker Blake Taylor got the credit 22-5. But BYU came right back, punishing a missed kick to touch to put Apenisa Malani in under the posts. 29-5 BYU. Navy came back again, and once again with a penalty inside the BYU 22 opted not to kick.
Instead they took the scrum, and orchestrated a nifty move to put scrumhalf Rickey Feller in under the posts. But Roundy capped off another smart series by BYU to make it 36-12 at halftime.
Navy was not backing down, but BYU’s ball movement and ball presentation was just too quick.
In the second half, the Cougars ran even more, and Navy just couldn’t rebound. Vimahi set up Malani for a try, and then Joseph Nicholes did the same for the flanker’s hat trick. Navy’s scrum, so solid all day, even betrayed them as a loose ball ended up in Zeke Mendenhall’s hands and the wing was away. Roundy bulled his way for 50 meters before feeding front-rower Ishmael Tilalo, who scored.
Battling to the last, Navy was unable to score in the second half. The Midshipmen could not keep the ball in contact nearly enough, and hurt themselves with some poor kicking – missing touch, and restarts not going ten meters. BYU survived a tough time in the scrum and were simply superior passing the ball to their many, many danger men on the perimeter.
Tries: Harrison, Kuchin, Whippy, Malani 3, Roundy, Mendenhall, Tilalo
Convs: Davies 8
Tries: Taylor, Feller