Blocked punt gives Miners comeback victory
November 1, 2016
In its first-round matchup with Cedar in the UHSAA 3AA state playoffs, the Park City High School football team had everything going against it.
Having to travel down south for the contest, the Miners already had to deal with the fatigue of sitting on a school bus for nearly four hours before even stepping foot on the field. Throw in the fact that they were facing a three-touchdown deficit in the third quarter and the odds were stacked against Park City.
Someone just forgot to tell the Miners.
"It was never over," Head Coach Josh Montzingo said. "We were never out [of it]."
With the game knotted up 21-21 with just 18 seconds left on the clock, the contest was almost undoubtedly heading to overtime when the Redmen lined up to punt the ball away.
Benjamin Towery, however, burst through the backfield to block the punt, while Jack Leecher scooped up the loose ball and returned it 20 yards to give the Miners the 28-21 come-from-behind win.
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"It's just a lot of fun to get that big hurdle taken care of," Montzingo said of advancing. "It was nice for the guys to get rewarded for a hard season's worth of work and to get another week to keep moving."
The comeback was made possible thanks to a full-team effort, but namely starting quarterback Spencer Zur. Despite a slow start to the game, the senior clearly didn't want his season to end by passing for 416 yards and two touchdowns, one of them being a 68-yard scoring strike to brother Collin in the third quarter to open up the Miner scoring.
When the Miners needed it most, the Zur brothers gave their team its first score of the game to start the comeback that didn't even seem possible with less than half of the game remaining.
"It was a gutsy performance [by Spencer]," Montzingo said. "We struggled a little bit early; a couple miscues for him, but he didn't lose faith and just kept plugging. … His brother always finds the right spot. Those two just know how to find each other and it paid off."
Collin finished the game with 133 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Beau Pederson did his part in the air-raid offense with 11 catches for 176 yards and his own score. He nearly made it two touchdowns at the end of the first half when Spencer found him streaking down the field for a 65-yard gain, but was tackled at the two-yard line as time expired before halftime.
Early in the game and slightly into the second half, Cedar continued to run the ball down the Park City defense's throat, which Montzingo admitted took some time to adjust to. But once the team made those necessary adjustments, the Redmen struggled to move the ball on the stout Miner defense, who surrendered just 41 yards in the second half.
"We had to adjust a little bit and balance ourselves up a little bit," Montzingo said. "Once we did that, they really had nowhere to go on offense anymore. I was feeling pretty good about that."
With the win, the Miners advance in the playoffs to face top-seeded Stansbury in the quarterfinal round. Being in the same region, the two teams have played once before this season, with the Stallions walking away with a 32-13 victory over the Miners.
But Park City has been here before. Montzingo has always said each passing week of the season gets harder and harder for his team and it's no different with the upcoming tilt with Stansbury.
While the Stallions may be one of the top teams in 3AA, the Miners are prepared and primed to pull off an upset.
"We're just excited to keep playing," Montzingo said. "We know we drew a really tough team. They're the No. 1 team and they deserve that. We know we have our hands full, but it's kind of like the rest of our season. … There's never really a time to take a breath, so I think the season has prepared us for this moment the best it can. We just look forward to maybe get back on the winning side of the matchup between the two of us."
Park City and Stansbury are scheduled to kick off on Friday at 4 p.m. from Stansbury High School.
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