Gaels Defeat Aztecs 57-5 in Last Regular Season Home Game | By: Christian Portillo
MORAGA, CALIF. - In the last home game of the regular season at Saint Mary’s Stadium, the #1 Gaels defeated the #10 San Diego State University Aztecs 57-5. The match between two of the top-10 teams in the country started off with Saint Mary’s freshman prop Payton Telea powering through several Aztec defenders for a try in the middle of the goalposts. Dylan Audsley, who did not play last week in the Gaels’ 94-7 win over Cal Poly, came back to make his first conversion of the day and give the Gaels an early 7-0 lead.
About twelve minutes later, fly-half Mike McCarthy, who was situated on the middle-right of the field, chip-kicked the ball to the left corner of the try zone, where the oval-shaped ball took a weird bounce but Vili Helu was able to recover it for the try before it bounced into touch. Although Audsley missed the conversion, he more than made up for it when Tommy Wallace was sprinting down the left sideline and passed to the Scholz Award winner for a try up the middle. Audsley finished the combination by hitting his second conversion to give Saint Mary’s an early 19-0 lead.
Twenty minutes into the match, Mike McCarthy turned it on and made a speedy move to the inside before offloading to a cutting Alec Barton, who scored the try on the left side.
San Diego State, who prior to this match was undefeated in California Conference play with convincing wins over Sacramento State and UC Santa Barbara, had plenty of good runs throughout the match. In comparison to other sides that Saint Mary’s has faced this season, the Aztecs were able to progressively move the line forward and were adept at moving the ball quickly. With just under six minutes before halftime, the Aztecs scored a try in the right corner to cut the Gaels’ lead to 24-5. This score was celebrated with a loud applause from the plethora of San Diego State fans that were in attendance at Saint Mary’s Stadium.
During halftime, a young rugby fan named Jeremiah went to the field to randomly select the Spring Tour Raffle winner. Jeremiah picked a card, ran up the stairs all the way up to the press box, and gave Matt, the public address announcer, the card to announce the winner. The winner was Leslie Ford, who was sitting in the third row near the halfway line. She will get to travel with the team on the Spring Tour to Ireland and Scotland during the week of April 8th. Seeing Gael rugby fans young and old unite for the common cause of sending the Gael ruggers on the Spring Tour was a great sight to see and on behalf of Gael Rugby, we would like to send a sincere thank you to everyone who donated to the cause and helped us reach 97% of the total goal. It is much appreciated and your kind donations will help make many lifelong memories for these student-athletes that represent Saint Mary’s on and off the pitch.
In the second half, Vili Helu was just about to score a try but knocked it on right before heading into the try zone. Mike McCarthy got things started for the Gaels ten minutes into the half by taking it up the middle for a try. Dylan Audsley made his third conversion to make the score 31-5. In a metaphorical foreshadowing of the 26 more points that the Gaels would put up in the next thirty minutes, the crowd brought their umbrella out to protect themselves from the onslaught of rain that came upon them.
However, umbrellas could literally do nothing to stop Saint Mary’s from scoring. Mike McCarthy ignited things once again with a great chip kick from the middle of the field to the left corner of the try zone, where reserve Jack Carso dove on the ball to ensure the try and put the score at 36-5.
Alejandro Duran was given a yellow card with just under nineteen minutes remaining in the match and had to sit out for ten minutes in the sin bin. Even though they were down a player, the Gaels’ defense did not relent. This was made clear when an Aztec was running down the sideline and Marcus Viscardi came out of nowhere to hit him hard into touch. This big hit got the crowd into it and led to a Saint Mary’s lineout.
Payton Telea proceeded to score his second try of the match with just under fourteen minutes to go and Audsley made the conversion to extend the lead 43-5.
With just under six minutes left, Chris McDonell assisted Holden Yungert, the California Conference Player of the Month, for a converted try in the right corner. Minutes after making this conversion, Dylan Audsley scored a try of his own up the middle. The finishing touch of his overall performance was another conversion to give the Gaels 57 points on the afternoon.
San Diego State could not score in the second half and although they had their good moments, the Aztecs did not have enough firepower to overcome the mighty Gaels. They will play another California Conference rival, Santa Clara, next Saturday back at home.
For the undefeated Gaels, Payton Telea had two tries while Dylan Audsley also had two tries but added six successful conversions to the mix. Mike McCarthy, once again, was all over the field on both sides of the ball. The fly-half had one try, an assist, and two beautifully placed balls in the left corner that resulted in tries. Saint Mary’s finished their last regular season home game with a bang, exploding for 33 uncontested points in the second half. With the win, they remain undefeated in conference play with four wins in which they have scored a total of 351 points while only having given up 27 total points.
The Gaels play their first of three consecutive road games next Saturday at Provo, Utah, against the #4 BYU Cougars. When the two sides met at Saint Mary’s Stadium a couple of weeks ago, the Gaels came away with an impressive 27-12 win that gave them the #1 seed in the country. The away part of this home-and-away series should be a good bout of rugby as the Cougars have had a few more weeks of playing experience and want to get the bitter taste of the loss off of their tongues.