Cal dominates Utah, Arizona ruins USC’s debut

D1A Rugby: Cal dominates Utah, Arizona ruins USC’s debut
Photo Credit: Alex Ho

LAFAYETTE, Colo. – Defending PAC Rugby Champions Cal were the first team in the conference to earn its second win after throttling Utah, 92-12. The Golden Bears scored a dozen tries in the first half alone before added four second half scores. Elsewhere in the conference, 16th-ranked Arizona picked up its first PAC win of the season by upending USC, 44-29. The Wildcats, who were on duel duty hosting both the Trojans and Utah Valley University, used it JV squad in the 15-point victory over USC.

Sophomore full back Troy Lockyear dotted down twice prior to the 10-minute mark, and Nic Mirhashem, Sam Cusano, Jake Goena, Patrick Barrientes and Keanu Andrade each followed suit before Lockyear added three more tries to close the half.

“It was all the others creating space for me, “Lockyear told Calbears.com. “Keanu did a great job to control the forwards, working some passes and scoring some ties. I think we all went through our systems really well.”

Utah’ sevens All-American Gabe Ruflin gave Utah its first points with a try on the opening half’s final play. Ruflin’s score still put the Utes in a daunting halftime position, trailing 68-7.

By the time the whistle sounded to start the second half, Cal had six of its eight reserves on the field. Still, the Bears continued to get the better of their guests in the game’s second 40 minutes. Barrientes scored a second try and Andrade’s two second half scores netted the freshman scrum half a hat trick. Lockyear’s replacement, Evan Coleman, scored from the fullback position, too.

Reminiscent of his try in the final stages of a one-sided loss to Saint Mary’s earlier this month, Utah All-American Chad Gough kept his legs driving throughout the contest and earned his team a second try late in the game. The two scores from Utah’s All-Americans were far from enough to hang with Cal.

The Bears will keep busy this week with two nonconference matches on the docket. First, Cal will make a short trip to Vallejo, Calif. to take on the California State University Maritime Academy Wednesday, Feb. 1 before playing California Conference’s Santa Clara Feb. 4.

Arizona won not one, but two games over the weekend. The Wildcats top side got off to a 19-5 halftime lead before turning back Utah Valley, 45-10, and also hosted USC for the program’s very first PAC Conference match. Using its JV side, Arizona got great individual performances from freshmen forwards Zach Biggs and Zach Knobbe-Hewit, as well as center Lucas Bartzis in the team’s 44-29 win.

“We were able to get a lot of players minutes over the course of the two games against quality opponents, and our fans really loved it as well,” said Arizona Head Coach Sean Duffy. “Utah Valley was a great opponent and they made us work fro everything we got on the day. On the PAC front, I look forward to adding in additional PAC-12 universities hopefully over the course of the next few seasons as we work to grow the game on our respective campuses in this post-Olympic world where the sport has a new profile, audience and power.”

The Trojans will remain in Arizona for their second PAC match when they face Arizona State, Feb 4. The Wildcats, meanwhile, will now look to improve its PAC record above the .500 mark when it hosts UCLA the same day.