Miners clawed by Cougars, 26-9 Park City disappears in fourth quarter
For the last five years, when the Miners were on the opposite side of the football, the Union Cougars knew they were in for a long game. This year, though, armed with a star quarterback in Rhen Richard, a stingy defense and multiple offensive threats at running back, Union was ready. And for the better part of three quarters, so were the Miners, but eventually the outperforming Cougars ran away with the victory, 26-9. "Our kids are getting there," said head coach Brandon Matich. "Its hard in transition. It’s hardest on the seniors." The Miners started Friday’s game with a somewhat new look to the offense. Andy Byers took over the helm from Wil Christensen as the starting quarterback. Starting running back Jared Tew, was limited to a few carries because of a sprained ligament in his foot, putting the bulk of the rushing load on older brother Michael. Despite the new faces, the Miners moved the ball well on the opening drive, with long runs coming from both Byers and Tew, to get Park City down the field. Unable to get in the end zone for the touchdown, the Miners settled for a Shea Curran field goal that put them up 3-0. The Miners held onto the slim lead through the first half against a flat Union offense. In the third quarter, the momentum shifted to the Cougars, who emerged with newfound energy and desire. Denied on their first drive on a fourth down and six play led by the Miner’s Tyler Smith, Union tried again, looking for their first score of the night. Following a 40-yard pass late in the third from Richard to Eric Bennett, Barry Angus ran the ball in for the touchdown, putting the Cougars up 7-3. Once the Cougars were on the board, they piled on the scoring. In the early minutes, Union picked off Byers. On the ensuing possession, Richard again connected with Bennett for a long pass and score to put Union up, 14-3. The Miners lost Jared Tew on the next possession with the foot injury and Union continued to roll. Union running back Blake Finn ran the ball twice in the fourth to put the game out of the Miners’ reach 26-3. In the waning moments of the game, Christensen ran an 85-yard kickoff return for the touchdown. "We had our chances. We weren’t able to put anything together offensively," Matich said. "When you don’t sustain offense, it wears down our defense." With one win in Region 10 and a 3-6 overall record, the Miners have set themselves up for a showdown on Thursday against their biggest rival, Judge Memorial in the final home game of the season. Tied for the final spot in the region, a victory will give the winning team the last playoff berth. "The way we are right now what a fun situation to be in," Matich said. "Not only are they rivals, but it’s almost a playoff situation. It will be fun for our kids, our seniors." In his first year as head coach, Matich is unfamiliar with the intense rivalry, but is expecting it to be the most exciting game of the season. "I’ve heard that they really come to play against Judge. It’s always fun to see how kids respond to these games. I’ve heard they rise to the occasion," Matich said. Matich says that this week the team will focus mainly on preparing mentally. He is also hoping for the return of Jared Tew to help the Miners defend against the Bulldogs’ strong running game. "We’re a better team when he is in there, on offense or defense," Matich said. The Judge game will also be the final home game for the seniors on the team. The Miners will host the Bulldogs on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at Dozier Field.
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