CEDAR CITY – A blocked punt returned for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in the game will haunt the Cedar Redmen the entire offseason as they lost 28-21 to Park City in the first round of the 3AA playoffs at Redmen Stadium Friday evening.
One of Park City’s assistant coaches told the team afterward that he hated going after punts, but was convinced to do so by another coach. The play call paid off when Cedar’s punter, Trent Maurer, bent down for a low snap and Park City’s Ben Towery was there to bat the kick straight into the air. Park City’s Jet Reed caught the kick and took it 18 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
“What a crazy, fantastic finish,” Park City head coach Josh Montzingo said. “It was a great high school football game. The rain opened up in the second half; we had a little bit of everything from the weather. We had a little bit of everything with our team tonight. We managed to find a way at the end.”
Park City wide receiver Collin Zur was stunned, but stoked after the game.
“Words can’t describe it,” he said. “That punt block might be the craziest thing I’ve seen in my playing career. Big players come up in big times, (they) step up and make huge plays. That’s what Ben (Towery) and Jet (Reed) did on that play. We fought back from a 21-0 deficit. A few years ago, that wouldn’t happen, we would’ve folded over and quit. But Park City culture has changed. We fought to the bitter end. That’s what we changed this year.”
Cedar scored the first 21 points in the game, with two of the three touchdowns being gifts from the defense. Cornerback Braden Garrett and linebacker Jade Bulloch each intercepted Park City quarterback Spencer Zur. Garrett’s led to a 23-yard touchdown run for Travis Tait early in the third, while Bulloch took the interception 52 yards for the score late in the third.
“I told (Spencer Zur), ‘Just keep fighting the good fight. You’re OK. You’ll get some pressure, don’t panic. You’re a great quarterback. You’ll make the throws when we need you.’ And he did,” Montzingo said.
The interceptions came on back-to-back drives, and it looked like Cedar was poised to dominate the game. But Spencer Zur was determined to prove he could overcome those mistakes and still win the game.
“I was over on the sideline and my ankle was in a lot of pain (after Bulloch’s interception),” I just came back over, sat down, and told the guys, ‘We’re fine. There’s nothing wrong.’ I ran back out to the huddle and said, ‘Guys, relax, breathe. It’s OK, we’re not out of this. It’s still the third quarter and there’s no need to panic.'”
Spencer Zur came out on the next drive and threw a 68-yard touchdown to his twin brother, Collin, for the Miner’s first score. Spencer Zur ended up with 414 yards passing and three total touchdowns, two passing touchdowns and he ran in the game-tying score from the 1-yard line.
Cedar’s first touchdown came near the end of the first half when Garrett, as the quarterback, threw a 22-yard touchdown to Derek Ball. Park City took over with 32 seconds left in the half and nearly scored as a 67-yard pass from Spencer Zur to Beau Pederson ended up at the 1-yard line as time expired. Cedar’s Grant Richey made the touchdown-saving tackle.
“We just had to come together, call ourselves out, and make sure we came and played our game in the second half,” Montzingo said.
Cedar will look forward to next season as it was eliminated from the playoffs, but Park City will continue next Friday, 4 p.m., with a game at region foe Stansbury. The Stallions beat the Miners 32-13 back in September.
3AA Playoff bracket (via UHSAA.org)
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