Wildcats football holds on for win vs. Miners
Both the South Summit and Park City High School football teams entered Friday night’s game at PCHS with 2-0 records, setting the table for a competitive game.
After losing 44-0 in 2013 and 21-6 last year, Park City was determined not to get blown out again and to showcase the improvements the team has made from a 2-9 campaign in 2014.
Coming off a double-overtime victory against 3A Morgan last week, defending 2A state champion South Summit was determined to again take down a bigger school, this time in the form of its 3AA in-county rival.
The Miners got on the scoreboard first, via a 27-yard field goal from Ben Coletta on their opening possession. Then, Grayson Maddux found the end zone on a 12-yard run to put Park City ahead 9-0 near halftime.
With time winding down in the first half, though, South Summit regained momentum in a big way when quarterback Nick Beasley found Isaac Tillett on a crossing pattern and Tillett took the ball 66 yards to pay dirt. After Trey Hatch tacked on the extra point to make it 9-7, the Wildcats were back in business.
"The catch probably is what sparked us," South Summit Coach Aaron Tillett said. "We were only down 9-0, but once he made that catch, it really energized us and made us realize we were only one play out of it. Park City pretty much dominated the first half. They were in control and then that play really woke us up."
In the third quarter, Beasley connected with Matt Lee for a 36-yard touchdown and Isaac Tillett scored on a four-yard run to put the Wildcats up 20-9. But, just before the end of the quarter, Park City quarterback Spencer Zur connected with his twin brother, Collin, on a six-yard touchdown pass. He then found Harrison Fugate in the end zone for a two-point conversion to send the game into the final quarter with South Summit clinging to a 20-17 lead.
After Park City turned the ball over on downs at the start of the fourth quarter, Isaac Tillett burst through the Miners’ defense and sprinted 58 yards for a touchdown to put the Wildcats ahead 27-17. Spencer Zur connected with Harrison Wakefield from six yards out to cut the lead to 27-24 on the next possession.
Following a South Summit punt, the Miners had one last chance to either tie or take the lead, but a Zur pass was intercepted by Lee. Lee then made a clutch third-down catch on the Wildcats’ ensuing possession to secure South Summit’s 27-24 victory.
"It came down to making plays," Aaron Tillett said. "This was a football game of a lot of big plays. What can you say? Both teams really played their hearts out."
In years past, a competitive loss against a tough team would have been seen as a moral victory for the Miners. This year, though, Coach Mike Shepherd isn’t looking for moral victories.
"We gave up two touchdowns over 50 yards," he said. "We did a lot of nice things, but we’re not going to win games when we give up easy touchdowns like that. When we give up a touchdown right before halftime that should have been an interception — we just made some major mistakes."
Lee said the Wildcats wanted to make a statement with a win against a bigger school.
"It was really big," he said. "We took a lot of pride coming here to Park City, a bigger school. We wanted it more in those last series and we got it done. They have a lot of kids who have started varsity for a couple years and we’re a fresh team. We’ve been behind a lot of varsity players. But to come here and prove ourselves and fill the shoes of the people ahead of us, that’s a big win for us. If we keep working hard, we’ll be playing in November."
Tillett said he was most impressed with the depth shown during South Summit’s win.
"Nick Beasley threw the ball really well tonight," he said. "It was a total team effort. We’ve got throwing, we’ve got catching, we’ve got running — everybody chipped in. Our kids just stepped up to the plate. I give a lot of credit to our kids for hanging in there, because Park City brought everything."
For Park City, the important thing is to not let this week’s loss affect the momentum the team had built up in the first two games of the season. Shepherd said the Miners need to learn how to play better in key moments.
"We played well enough to win the game except for a handful of plays," he said. "We just aren’t ready yet to step to the plate when there are big-time plays needed. Instead of big-time plays, we had major breakdowns. That was the difference in the game. You congratulate South Summit because they stuck to their game plan and they made big plays when they needed to and we didn’t."
Going into next week’s game against Ben Lomond, Park City needs to come out with a chip on its shoulder, Shepherd said.
"All I know is that, if our kids don’t come out angry next week, I’m going to be disappointed," he said.
Meanwhile, South Summit wants to keep rolling against South Sevier next week before it begins the 2A North portion of its schedule.
"It’s time to make a statement before we go into league play," Tillett said. "We’re done with these bigger schools than us. We’ve got three big wins in a row against really good football teams. That says a lot about our team. We’re going to be just fine if we play consistently and do our thing."
Park City’s game at Ben Lomond on Friday is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. The Miners’ next home game is Sept. 18 against Bear River, with the opening kick-off set for 7 p.m. South Summit will host South Sevier in Kamas on Friday night at 7 p.m.
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Returning to Park City’s Shepherd of the Mountains Lutheran Church on Saturday is the annual Bike and Hike fundraiser in support of the Good News Jail and Prison Ministry.