Saint Mary’s completed a rare sweep of BYU, beating the Cougars 37-29 Saturday in Provo to follow up on last month’s 37-17 win in Moraga.
Playing at BYU’s South Field, the Gaels continued to play at a pace that most teams struggle to match. And while BYU basically did just that - keeping it a one-score game for most of the day, Saint Mary’s held on.
BYU opened the scoring with a try from scrumhalf Ben Webber, converted by Calvin Whiting. Saint Mary’s all-everything No. 8 Vili Helu surged over on a pick-and-go that had no business working. Helu dismissed six BYU tacklers on his over for a try at 13 minutes, which Sean Yacoubian converted to tie the game at 7-7. Whiting nudged BYU ahead with a penalty goal, but Saint Mary’s replied with a try from Alex Barton which, with Yacoubian’s conversion, made it 14-10 for the Gaels.
Right before halftime, Saint Mary’s added to that lead with a try from flanker Francois Pieterse, who did well to keep his balance while scoring, to make it 19-10 at the break.
BYU kept coming back, but could not take the lead. Yacoubian hit a penalty to make it 22-10 early in the second half; BYU put wing Sam Roberts away, and Whiting converted to make it 22-17.
Saint Mary’s pulled away again. This time it was a superb team try finished by Tevite Lopeti but made mostly thanks to the running of Payton Telea-Ilalio. That converted try made it 29-17. Once again BYU answered. In both games the Cougars had been able to find some room on the outside, and this time Justin Weaver raced in to make it 29-22. Yacoubian answered with a penalty, and then with about seven minutes left, BYU’s outstanding flanker Tosh Wilcox scored. Whiting converted to make it a 32-29 game.
The tense final minutes ended in favor of Saint Mary’s as center Liam Cotter’s try sealed it for the Gaels.
For BYU, perhaps disappointment as they were within striking distance on several occasions, including right at the end.
For Saint Mary’s, it’s an excellent result right before the team’s tour of Italy. The Gaels were stronger in the scrum, and certainly at the point of contact, while also playing at a high rate of speed.