ARIZONA FALLS TO BYU IN FIRST ROUND 
R
#3 BYU 59
#6 Arizona 13 
D1A First Round
 



 

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EJ Freeman was a standout in his postseason debut for the Wildcats. (Photo credits: Catherine Regan)

Apr 11- Arizona returned the postseason on Saturday, the first playoff matches in College Rugby since the 2019 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Wildcats, the rematch with #3 BYU was an opportunity to even the series with the Cougars in their third trip to Utah in the last month.

The side started well, holding the powerful BYU attack scoreless for the first 11 minutes. The Cougars took advantage of a Wildcat mistake in defense in the 12th minute, opening the scoring for the hosts. Soon after, a BYU move off of a scrum center opened things up for another try to make it 14-0. Arizona settled in to the game from here forward, stringing together strong phases of defense that led to turnovers which the Cats capitalized on, moving in to the BYU 22. It was in the Cougars' 22 that the Wildcats' attack stalled, coming away with three points despite multiple opportunities. "I am disappointed with the way we deviated from the gameplan inside their 22, we got sloppy and our timing was poor and that's ultimately on me coaching the attack. I can guarantee that will never happen again" said Director of Rugby Sean Duffy. A key passage of play occurred late in the half, as a promising Arizona possession resulted in a turnover, which BYU capitalized on to work their way downfield and punch in a try just before half to make it 28-3. 

In the second half, Arizona defended well to open play and turned over BYU inside their 22, signaling a possible momentum shift. BYU quickly snapped back the game, stealing the Arizona lineout and working their way back into the 22 to set up a linebreak and another try. The visitors would respond this time, with a hard run by Mattox King and a linebreak from Jacob Broselle putting Kyle Fulton through in the right corner to chip in to the lead. Arizona would show dogged defense again in their 22, with turnovers by Scrumhalf George O'Brien and Center Abe Turpen giving the Wildcats attacking opportunities that they could not convert. A late try by King was the final scoring from the visitors, with the Wildcats dropping the contest 59-13 to end their Fifteens season. 

Despite the loss, the Wildcats were upbeat about the future and thankful for the Seniors for their contributions. "We played the toughest schedule we've had since I've been here and that was a deliberate choice. BYU is a good well-coached squad and we relish the chance to match up with a side like that. I'm thankful to the Seniors for holding the ship together not just this season but also in the last two years with all that the country and our team has been through. Guys like Jon Rogers, Robert Figley and the rest of our seniors are guys I'm so proud to have coached. They're going out in to the world as not just adults but leaders that can handle anything. Looking ahead I'm excited for the sheer amount of our lineup we bring back. We expect to be back next year and be even better. Postseason Rugby is where you see what you're made of. Even in the loss, I saw what these guys were made of. I liked what I saw. We end the year as the top team in the state and one of the best in our region. But we're not satisfied with that. Time to take that next step next year." said Duffy. 

Arizona ends the season in the top 12 of the competition as BYU advances to take on Saint Mary's in the national quarterfinals next week. Arizona now turns their attention to Sevens National Championships May 14-15 on NBC. 

SCORING vs BYU

Tries: Fulton, King

Conversions: Figley 0/2

Penalties: Cathala 1/1

ROSTER vs BYU

1- Seamus McCarthy

2- Zach Barker

3- Dalton Slaughter

4- Jack Brown

5- James Rivers (VC)

6- Tyler Heer

7- EJ Freeman

8- Jack McCrossin

9- Maxime Cathala

10- Robert Figley

11- Jacob Broselle

12- Mattox King

13- Matthew Start

14- Kyle Fulton

15- Jon Rogers (C)

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16- Mustafa Khaled

17- Caeden Chase

18- Harry Bluck

19- Joey Lewis

20- Abe Turpen

21- George O'Brien

22- Lucas Agasse

23- Elijah Palmer