D1A was back in full force this weekend with all top five teams in action and a host of big games bringing conference implications.
The long-anticipated rematch between #1 St. Mary’s and #4 BYU did not disappoint, as BYU gave the Gaels everything they could handle but fell just short, losing 37-29. BYU came out firing and scored first before the Gaels offense went to work, building a 19-10 into the half. BYU inched closer in the second half, with tries from Sam Roberts and Justin Weaver keeping the Cougars within one score. BYU could never retake the lead, however, and after cutting the lead to 3, St. Mary’s responded immediately as Liam Cotter dotted down to give St. Mary’s some breathing room and seal the victory.
Other top 5 teams looked to keep up their recent momentum, as #2 Life and #3 Cal both came away with victories. Life defeated #9 Arkansas State 54-3 with another impressive defensive display to stay perfect in conference play. With #5 Lindenwood also keeping pace in Mid-South after defeating Davenport 57-7, the Lions can still look to dethrone Life in Mid-South with their rematch just two weeks away.
At the Cal invitational, Cal impressed with a win over UCLA, followed by a 51-40 victory over #11 Army to take first in the tournament. After falling behind 29-24 in the final, the Bears exploded for 3 quick tries to pull away for good.
In the California Conference, Cal Poly and #14 San Diego State both picked up wins to stay in close contention for second place. Cal Poly beat UC Santa Barbara 49-3 while San Diego State looked strong again, winning 79-15 over Santa Clara. For Aztecs head coach Alex Lichtig, his team’s performance helped expose both strengths and weaknesses before next week’s game against Arizona.
“It’s always great to put points on the board, but I think the most valuable lessons from today are the areas Santa Clara was able to expose,” Lichtig said. “We’ll look to shore those up and continue to improve our attack ahead of the trip to Tucson.”
In a non-conference bout, #13 Central Washington secured a 122-5 victory over Colorado, with 12 different players putting in 20 tries. Next up for CWU is a pair of tough road opponents — #18 Utah followed by BYU.
Utah Valley sent a statement to the rest of D1A after a commanding victory over #17 Colorado State, going up 62-19. As they head into a tough backend of the season do not be surprised if this win was their launchpad into the playoffs.
As Red River conference play winds down, all eyes are on LSU and Texas A&M for the South title hunt now that Baylor has clinched its spot in the Red River Conference Championship. Down in Baton Rouge, LSU defeated Houston 83-17. Though Houston put up some points early and held strong on defense, LSU’s offense could not be denied in the second half, capitalizing on turnovers and scoring off set pieces. In a Red River rematch, Arkansas played Oklahoma tight the whole way but lost 41-31.