HURRICANE – The Hurricane Tigers beat Park City 51-20 in the first round of the 3AA Playoffs Friday night — not with flash or finesse — but with hard-nosed, blue-collar Americana football.
One play exemplified the win and the Hurricane attitude. It was not the deciding play. It was not even the play that padded many stats. But it was a play that was typical of the tough football Hurricane seems to always play, especially when playoffs arrive.
As the first half was winding down, the Tigers had driven to the Park City 10-yard line. Quarterback Josh Parker handed the ball to fullback Jake Carr. He burst through the left part of the line and pancaked the Miner linebacker that had filled the hole. As the defender went backwards, Carr continued forward to find a safety crashing down on him. Different player, same result — pancake. And Carr cruised the remaining few yards still on his feet.
“He is quite an athlete,” said Tiger head coach Steve Pearson. “He can run away from you, but he is also strong enough to clear his own path in traffic.”
The touchdown put some distance between the teams after Park City had closed an earlier 16-point deficit to three with two touchdowns in the second quarter.
“That play set the tone for us coming back out of the locker room,” said Pearson. “Our guys stepped it up today.”
The game started ugly for the visiting Miners. On their first series of downs, Miner quarterback Spencer Zur threw a pass to a receiver on the left side. Cornerback Kirt McDaniel jumped up and caught the pass simultaneously with the Miner receiver. Both came down with the ball, but McDaniel won the battle as he ripped the ball from the receiver’s hands to get the interception.
“Whenever I go up for a pass, whether I am the receiver or defender, that ball is mine,” McDaniel said. The Tigers capitalized with a Jaden Stone 40-yard field goal.
After a three-and-out, the Miners could only manage a 7-yard punt, giving Hurricane its second possession deep in Park City territory. Carr got his first touchdown of the day with a 30-yard run.
Using the wind to their advantage, the Tigers would score once more in the first quarter, this time a 27-yard run by Nick McDaniel. A bad snap led to an unsuccessful PAT, but with less than eight minutes gone the Tiger lead was 16-0.
In the second quarter, the stiff wind favored the Miners and they took quick advantage. On two consecutive drives, they found the end zone. The first came on a 1-yard plunge by Grayson Maddux. On the second one, Zur called his own number and after faking a handoff, ran around the left side on a keeper to pull the Miners to 16-13, leading to Carr’s second touchdown before time expired.
In the second half, the Miners fooled everybody with an unorthodox onside kick. The kicker kicked the ball with force but it went straight into the Tiger middle lineman, who had already turned his back and was running back to set up the return blocking. Before the Tigers knew what happened, a Miner had recovered the ball for possession.
The Miners could not convert, however, and eventually turned over the ball on downs. Shortly afterward, the Tigers got a big play from Nick McDaniel with a 71-yard run. Parker found tight end Tobie Swenson for the two-point conversion to give Hurricane a 30-13 lead with 8:50 remaining in the third quarter.
The Tigers would not stay comfortable very long as the Miners struck back quickly on their next possession. Spencer Zur found his brother, Collin Zur, with a 77-yard reception. The Tiger defender had gambled by going for the interception, and whiffed. The receiver caught the ball turned and saw no one between him and the end zone. With 8:18 left in the third it was 30-20. The Miners would not score again.
Hurricane scored on its next three possessions to blow the game open. With 4:05 to play in the third, Carr scored his third touchdown of the day with a 1-yard dive.
On the Miners next possession, the snap on the punt went awry. The punter snatched it up, but because he was running to his left, he was forced to punt with his left leg to avoid the oncoming rush attack. The punt went 17 yards even with the wind at his back. The Tigers got their third touchdown of the half shortly after with a 12-yard pass from Parker to wide receiver Lucas Stout. With just under two minutes to play in the third the Tiger lead was 44-20.
HHS scored another insurance touchdown to begin the fourth quarter. This time Stout would score on the ground, a 70-run down the Miner sideline on a fly sweep to get the game to the final score, 51-20.
Hurricane outgained Park City 512-288. The Tigers got 442 of those yards on the ground.
For the Tigers, Parker completed 7 of 15 passes for 70 yards. Jake Carr had 142 yards on 17 carries. Nick McDaniel had 120 yards on eight carries. Lucas Stout gained 80 yards on three carries.
Individually for Park City, Zur completed 17 of 41 passes for 214 yards. His main target was his brother, Collin Zur, who caught eight passes for 117 yards. The leading rusher for Park City was Cameron Maddux who gained 41 yards on eight carries.
Defensively, the Tigers got to Zur several times, either sacking him or forcing him to throw before he wanted. Defensive end Tobie Swenson applied pressure most of the night and also had three batted balls on Zur passes.
“Our defense did great getting back to (Zur),” said Swenson. “If we do not get to him, then we try to get into the passing lanes and get our hands up to break up the pass.”
The Tigers advance and will travel north next week to take on the Tooele Buffaloes.
“They are a good team,” said Pearson. “They finished second, which is no small feat. We will have to continue playing well if we want to keep playing.”
Stats: Hurricane 51, Park City 20
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