The Park City High School football team hadn't been able to catch a break this season en route to an 0-4 record.
On the heels of a tough 37-36 loss at home against Union last week, things didn't get any better for the Miners heading into Friday night's road game against Tooele.
Park City dressed only 28 varsity players due to injuries, forcing several players to play both offense and defense. But the Miners persevered, earning a 24-21 victory and catching a couple breaks along the way.
Tooele was driving down the field with less than a minute left when sophomore defensive back Grayson Maddux intercepted a pass to seal the victory for Park City.
"It was a huge play," Park City coach Mike Shepherd said. "I'm not sure I've ever been around a group of football kids that's had more bad luck the unexpected death of coach [Aaron] Alford, the track resurfacing forcing us to practice in places no one really wants to practice, mistakes in games and just not catching any breaks. Grayson made a nice play right when we needed it. We just needed a couple breaks here and there and things to go our way to keep everyone motivated."
He added that the win was huge for his team's collective confidence.
"It's really big, to be honest," he said. "If nothing else, it keeps the kids motivated and wanting to continue to work hard. And it makes things a lot more fun."
After falling behind 7-0 in the first quarter, kicker Zach Slusher started the Park City scoring in the second, hitting a 32-yard field goal. Quarterback Ian Moritz then found tight end Konnor Andersen for a 10-yard touchdown pass to give Park City a 10-7 halftime lead.
Moritz and Andersen connected again in the third quarter, this time from 15 yards out. But then Tooele staged a comeback, scoring two rushing touchdowns to take a 21-17 fourth quarter lead.
With their backs against the wall yet again, the Miners stayed composed, driving down the field before Moritz found receiver Alec Wing for a 30-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-21 in favor of Park City.
"The passing game has been great," Shepherd said. "We are going to have to figure out how to get some running game in there though. Teams are going to adjust."
Moritz threw for more than 350 yards on the night, and Wing and Dustin Landis each eclipsed the 100-yard mark for receiving yards.
Shepherd said the Miners' effort on Friday night was what made him the happiest.
"The biggest thing I was impressed with is that I know they were exhausted, but they refused to give in," he said.
This Friday, the Miners (1-4) will host their homecoming game against Uintah (2-2). Shepherd said he expects Park City to be competitive again.
"They run a traditional spread offense, so they'll throw quite a bit and do zone runs, which is pretty standard for a spread offense," he said. "They run a 4-3 defensively, which is similar to what Tooele ran. But come game time, who knows what kind of adjustment they'll make."
He said the Miners are going in the right direction, but they need to make sure they keep taking steps forward this week in practice.
"Yes, we made a big step last week," he said. "But we have to take another big step this week. We're not going to give up our passing attack, but we need to be a little more efficient on runs. We'll see what they're giving us and go from there."
Friday night's game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. at Dozier Field.