Miners’ first-half outburst not enough to hold off Brighton
Bengals shut out Park City 30-0 in the second half to pull away with the win
Park City entered Friday night’s game against Brighton with a stellar 6-1 record, but a weak strength of schedule to start the year meant the Miners didn’t have a standout win.
Heading into halftime, the Miners led 33-17 on the road and were two quarters away from by far their biggest win of the season.
However, it all came tumbling down in the second half.
The Miners’ offense stalled, and Brighton’s offense wouldn’t be denied down the stretch. The Bengals outscored Park City 30-0 in the second half to pull away with a 47-33 win. Park City fell to 6-2 overall and 3-2 in region play heading into next week’s regular-season finale at home against Skyline.
“Going into the playoffs, we need them to know that you definitely are going to be in a battle, no matter what, to the end,” Park City coach Josh Montzingo said. “The game’s never over. We’ve got to remember we’ve got to come out and play that second half the way we played in the first half, that same energy. I think that’ll be an important lesson for us going into the playoffs.”
Brighton running back Kace Gurr gave Park City’s defense headaches all game, and he put the Miners on notice early. On the first play from scrimmage, Gurr took the handoff, stayed on his feet as a couple Miners nearly dragged him to the ground and was then off to the races for a touchdown. The two teams were tied at seven apiece after 12 minutes.
Park City’s offense exploded in the second quarter, scoring 26 points. Senior running back Mason Grover countered Gurr’s big night with a breakout performance of his own. Grover scored both of Park City’s first two touchdowns, and another run of longer than 70 yards set up an additional score.
“It’s obviously hard to focus on the good like (it’s) a win like this, but I’ve been capitalizing every week and just trying to get better,” Grover said. “Just trying to do as much as I can for the team and ultimately for a win. But it doesn’t always work out.”
Park City answered any concerns it had about running the ball against a bigger opponent with another strong performance against Brighton. The Miners’ rushing attack created enough of a threat that a flea flicker in the second quarter froze Brighton’s defense. Quarterback Chase Beyer easily completed a deep pass to senior Joseph Eldridge for a touchdown.
“They’re a good team,” Grover said. “They’re physical obviously, and we’re not really considered a big team. We’re fast, so it was good to show that we’re not as big as them, but we still have strength and could still pull it off.”
The Miners completed their 33-point first half with another Beyer touchdown to Eldridge. Park City’s offense has had its struggles this year, but Montzingo feels the unit is finding its identity heading into the last week of the regular season.
“I think we’re slowly and surely finding that,” he said. “They did a good job up front kind of shutting that down in the second half. We’ve got to find an answer for that going forward. And we’ll do that. That’ll be our job, to go back to the drawing board and make sure we do that for the kids and put them into position next time, next week.”
The Miners’ 33 points in the first half were the most Brighton has allowed in a game all season, let alone in a single half. However, Park City’s first four possessions in the second half ended in an interception, two punts and a lost fumble. Montzingo said his team was too conservative down the stretch on Friday.
“We kind of took our foot off the gas a little bit in that second half,” Montzingo said. “Played a little conservatively. That’s on us coaches. We’ve got to do a better job, make sure that we put them in some good situations, to keep going and not get too conservative. And on the defensive side as well, we gave up far too many points in that second half. We’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball back and give the offense more chances.”
Brighton took complete advantage of Park City’s offensive struggles in the second half.
After an interception ended the Bengals’ first drive of the second half deep in Park City territory, their next four possessions ended in touchdowns. With Brighton up seven following a Park City turnover on downs, Gurr provided the dagger, scoring his fourth rushing touchdown of the game.
“It’s definitely a motivation booster from the first that we had,” Park City senior Chandler Kelsch said. “We were cocky at half. But it’s definitely good for the future knowing that we can play that well, at least for a half.”
The Miners gave Brighton a scare on the Bengals’ home turf on their homecoming game, but Park City knows it let a golden opportunity to secure a signature win slip away.
“We had that game,” Kelsch said. “We had it in our grasp. We didn’t play a complete game. Definitely going to work on that this week. Put a good game together against Skyline – hopefully we get the win. I’m confident we can beat any team if we play a complete game.”
Park City Head Coach Pete Stoughton mentioned how his team will bring their trademark enthusiasm to what should be a relatively-rain soaked course, saying in a prepared statement, “we anticipate radiant smiles on all of our riders faces this weekend.”
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