BY HUGH BROWN
The University of Utah rugby team lost a 25-24 heartbreaker to Central Washington in the Varsity Cup quarterfinals played in Los Angeles on Saturday.
Meanwhile, BYU smashed Dartmouth to advance to the semifinals, where the Cougars will host Navy at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
It was a hugely disappointing finish to the season, but the rebuilding Utes should be proud of their intense play throughout the year. With only three graduates this spring, Utah only needs to add depth to their team to be a strong contender in 2015.
The Wildcats pulled the match out as they connected on a 40-meter penalty kick with no time left on the clock. Central Washington entered the game undefeated while outscoring their opponents by an average of nearly 75 points a match. The game was closely contested from start to finish with the two teams tied at 10-10 at the half as Scott Strong and Austin Taylor scored unconverted tries.
Central Washington went up 17-10, but the Utes tied it again at 17-17 on Taylor Thomas’ try and Tonata Lauti’s conversion. With fifteen minutes to play the Wildcats scored an unconverted try to take a 22-17 lead, but CWU mishandled the following kickoff and Jacob Morrison picked up the ball and streaked through the defense for a converted try. Drake Meyers’ conversion gave the U a 24-22 lead. That held until the final seconds of the match when the Wildcats connected on their winning penalty kick.
Utah’s pressure at the breakdown forced Central Washington into numerous penalties throughout the match and prevented them from getting into any offensive rhythm.
With the win the Wildcats move on to play California in the semifinals this Saturday while Utah’s season is over.