Mark McCurdy’s big night advances Park City football to state quarterfinal
Park City High School football won a tight home playoff game with Salem Hills on Friday, beating the Skyhawks 28-24. With the win, the 8-3 Miners are set to head to Smithfield to take on undefeated No. 1 seed Sky View in the Class 4A quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The two teams traded the lead four times over the course of the game, which the Miners settled with a series of big plays in the fourth quarter.
With five minutes left, Park City, trailing 24-21, stacked all of its receivers on the right side of junior quarterback Jack Skidmore. When Skidmore handed off the ball to junior wide receiver Mark McCurdy, the Skyhawk defense anticipated a run to the sideline, and started running for the corner at the snap. McCurdy cut back, ducked through the defense, and found nothing but 80 yards of green turf.
After that play, though, the receiver and defensive back wasn’t done on either side of the ball.
He intercepted a Skyhawk pass on Salem Hills’ next possession, and then caught a risky third-down pass from Skidmore that put the Miners in a position to run out the clock.
“He went off tonight,” Skidmore said of McCurdy after the game. “He caught everything. It was awesome.”
The game was anything but secure until those final plays.
The Skyhawks limited Park City’s running game, limiting junior running back Dylan Bauer to his first scoreless game in 7 matchups.
“That’s a playoff game,” Montzingo said. “You’re going to get a little bit of everything. You’re going to get the best effort from both sides. (Salem Hills) is a well-coached team, it’s a much bigger team; a very physical team, and they gave us some trouble up front, but we got the ball to our athletes and made the plays we needed to make.”
Those plays started just over two minutes into the game, when McCurdy scored for the Miners through a 24-yard run, followed by a successful kick by senior John Flitton.
The Skyhawks took the lead by the end of the first quarter through two scoring runs by junior Jorgen Olsen – for 1 yard and 9 yards respectively – and two successful extra points by junior Luke Clawson, to lead 14-7.
A 25-yard field goal by Clawson started the second quarter to give Salem Hills a 10-point edge, but the Skyhawks didn’t keep the lead for long.
With a little less than eight minutes left in the first half, Park City junior defensive back Paul Baynes intercepted a Skyhawks pass and ran it back for a 36-yard touchdown. Flitton’s point-after narrowed Salem Hills’ lead to 17-14.
Skidmore found McCurdy five minutes later for an 11-yard touchdown catch, bringing the Miners into the lead 21-17 at halftime.
Neither team scored in third quarter. Olsen put the Skyhawks ahead for the last time just 15 seconds into the fourth quarter, before McCurdy’s 80-yard run to the end zone.
In addition to McCurdy’s performance, Montzingo praised Park City’s defense for containing Salem Hills and giving the offense opportunities to make plays, and said the team’s linemen on both sides of the ball did a great job against a physically larger squad.
“Sometimes you break down and sometimes you make plays,” Montzingo said of playing against bigger players. “We found a way to make plays tonight.”
Park City’s next opponent, Sky View, is coming off of a 61-21 beatdown over Snow Canyon at home to start the postseason. The team is currently 10-0 overall.
Flitton’s barefoot points
Flitton put up four extra points, three punts and a narrowly missed 33-yard field goal with a bare plant foot.
Montzingo said Flitton, a Miners soccer standout last season, has plantar fasciitis and finds it more comfortable to stand on a bare foot while kicking than with a cleated one.
“I’m not going to argue with my kicker, who’s a really good kicker,” Montzingo said after the game. “In a sock, he fell down, but in bare feet he had purchase; he could plant. I said, ‘Whatever works, man.’”
Skidmore didn’t seem to know about the fasciitis, but expressed a similar sentiment.“He’s been kicking pretty well lately,” he said. “As long as it works, I’m OK with it.”
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the name of the PCHS player who intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown.
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Both Park City teams finished in the top five at Tuesday’s divisional meet.