Second-half surge gives Utes the win

By By Kelsey Price

By Kelsey Price

Overcoming an early 12-0 deficit and defensive struggles, the Utah rugby team managed to rally past the Air Force Zoomies 39-28 on Saturday.

Air Force, which made it to the Sweet 16 in the National Championship last spring, dominated possession the first 20 minutes of the game, consistently controlling the ball in both loose-ball play and the scrum, which is a competition for the ball after a penalty or when the ball has gone out of bounds.

Junior wing Ryan Bailey said the Utes were plagued by lack of defensive discipline during the game.

“There were far too many missed tackles and penalties, which will be addressed in practice next week,” he said.

However, after a breaking run and try (the equivalent of a touchdown in football) from Air Force flanker Elliot Lope in the 20th minute, the Utes put up three tries that shifted the momentum of the game, with the Utes pulling away 28-12 by the 43rd minute.

Offensively, the shift in the momentum proved key to keeping Air Force on its toes. The Utes dominated the second half with 50-meter runs from both Thretton Palamo and Naki Angilau, both of which resulted in scores.

Ultimately, two more tries for Air Force and a successful penalty kick in the latter part of the second half proved insufficient against the Utah offense.

Freshmen Don Pati8212;a former Highland rugby standout8212;led the team with 15 points for the Utes. The fall season for the rugby team8212;starting out 2-08212;serves as a developmental period for new players and a time to fine-tune skills before facing national powerhouses BYU and the Cal State Bears in the spring.

Utah rugby will face Washington State at home Sept. 26. Head coach Blake Burdette said that despite Washington’s young standing, it is an up-and-coming team that promises to “be out for dominance in terms of possession” this Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon at Baliff Field.

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Mike Mangum

The rugby team fell behind the Air Force Zoomies at the start of the game on Saturday but was able to come back and earn a 39-28 win.