MORAGA, Calif.—No. 6 Saint Mary's scored the final 10 points of the game to overcome a 24-20 deficit in the second half and upset No. 1 BYU.
"All in all I think we got exactly what we were looking for: a hard game," BYU head coach David Smyth said. "Obviously we are disappointed we didn't come away on the right side of the scoreboard but I think we can learn a lot from this. All credit to Saint Mary's. I know they were definitely ready for us. We'll take a lot of good from this and take our lessons, and at the end of the day we'll be a better team for it."
After trailing 20-16 at halftime, BYU captain Kyle Sumsion scored a try early in the second half to give the Cougars their first lead since 6-5. The conversion attempt failed and the Cougars took a 21-20 lead. The Cougars extended the lead to 24-20 in the 58th minute on Jonny Linehan's kick, his fourth of the game. The Gaels scored a try on a long run from deep inside their own territory to retake the lead in the 66th minute. The conversion was good and the Gaels led 27-24.
BYU threatened, but Saint Mary's kick in the 78th minute upped the lead to 30-24 and the Cougars failed to convert in the last minutes.
"We lost to the team that wanted it more," Sumsion said. "We played hard and fought hard, just committed to many mistakes. I am excited to play them in a couple weeks to show them how BYU rugby really plays."
Saint Mary's broke a scoreless tie with a try just over 10 minutes into the game, but the conversion failed. Jonny Linehan made back-to-back kicks in the 16th and 21st minutes to give the Cougars their first lead of the match at 6-5.
The Gaels scored another try and converted the kick to retake the lead at 12-6. Linehan scored three more points for the Cougars on a drop-kick to cut the deficit in half. In the 27th minute, Saint Mary's scored another try and failed on the conversion, extending the lead to 17-9.
Josh Whippy broke through the Saint Mary's line in the 33rd minute and scored the first try of the game for BYU. Linehan converted the kick and the Cougars trailed 17-16.
Saint Mary's converted a kick just before the half to take a 20-16 lead into intermission.
The Cougars return to action in two weeks with their home opener against the Glendale Raptors at South Field on March 1. Saint Mary's will come to Provo for a rematch on March 8.