HURRICANE — Hurricane played with fire a little bit Friday evening. But fortunately, the Tigers didn’t get burned.
A slow start for heavily-favored Hurricane against Park City kept the Miners in the game for nearly three full quarters, but a 28-point flurry of points at the end of the third helped the Tigers rise for a 49-28 win in the first round of the 3AA playoffs at Tigers Stadium.
“We came out really, really flat,” Hurricane coach Steve Pearson said. “Park City came to battle. I’m just glad we were able to weather it and gain some traction and get the job done.”
With a pair of fumbles and an ill-conceived fake punt at their own 14-yard line, Hurricane helped the Miners to a 14-7 lead late in the first half. The Tigers did get TDs late in the second quarter by Jake Carr and JD Stanworth to forge a 21-14 halftime lead, but the score remained 21-14 until there were two minutes left in the third quarter.
That’s when things got a little weird. Like Halloween weird.
Carr scored his second TD at the 2:09 mark to make it 28-14. On Park City’s next play from scrimmage, quarterback Ian Moritz hit Harrison Fugate on a deep post over the middle. The exciting 30-yard gain turned into a nightmare for the Miners when Fugate fumbled. The ball bounced around like a loose pumpkin before Hurricane linebacker Jeremiah Ieremia scooped it up.
“I just kept chasing him and next thing you know, the balls on the field, it’s out,” Ieremia said. “I didn’t want to land on it because I knew the coast was clear, so I just picked it up. I looked behind me and it was all end zone.”
Ieremia, the senior BYU commit, ran down the right sideline, directing traffic and pointing out defenders for his teammates to block. He then cut hard to the left and outraced the Park City would-be tacklers to the left corner of the end zone.
“It was like NFL Films time, wasn’t it,” Pearson said. “He made a great play and his teammates made a lot of great blocks to get him to the end zone.”
But things were just starting to warm up. With the score now 35-14, Hurricane kicked off to Park City. The Miners ran a reverse on the kick return that fooled absolutely no one. Return man Josh Pelegrin ran it out near the 30-yard line, but coughed up the ball near the Hurricane sideline. Traycen Shamo scooped up the second loose ball in a 15-second span and sprinted back for another quick score.
Just like that, it was 42-14 with 1:27 to go in the third. But wait, there’s more.
Park City threw up seven points on the board just 67 seconds later on a TD pass from Spencer Zur to Chandler Barkdull to make it 42-21 with 18 seconds left in the third.
Not to be outdone, Hurricane took the ball at its own 20-yard line (after a touchback) and Shamo scored his second touchdown with and 80-yard scamper along the right sideline, making it 49-21 with three seconds left in the third.
The body count: 35 points in 126 seconds, 28 of those by the Tigers.
“We had some fortunate things happen there,” Pearson said. “That was a lot of points in a short amount of time.”
Park City did add a fourth quarter TD, but the game was well in hand by that time for Hurricane, which accumulated 438 rushing yards in the game. Stanworth was the top rusher with 106 yards, but four other Tigers had at least 50 yards, including Shamo (77), Angel Bulloch (71), and Ieremia (52).
The biggest side story to the game was the injury to Hurricane starting quarterback Kaden Langston. The senior, who is also a star on the HHS basketball team, broke his ankle in the second quarter. Backup Cole Stratton is no longer with the team, so sophomore Josh Parker made his varsity debut Friday night. Parker managed the game well and completed his only three pass attempts.
“I’m happy that we won, but sad for Kaden,” Pearson said. “He’s such a good kid and a great leader. Sure, I’m nervous having a sophomore as our quarterback, but we are so pleased and proud of how he played tonight. We always tell the kids they are one play away from being in that situation and they’d better be ready.”
With the win, the Tigers advance to the 3AA Quarterfinals and will take on long-time nemesis Juan Diego in Draper. Juan Diego beat Hurricane in three straight 3A championship games a few years back and eliminated the Tigers from the playoffs two years ago with a 41-0 shutout.
“Honestly, the kids involved in those great games are married and have kids now,” Pearson said. “We will treat this like any other playoff game. If we do beat them, that will be a great thing, but that’s not going to be the focus of our week.”
The Tigers, 6-5, had 26 first downs and held a nine-minute advantage in time of possession.
Park City ends the year 2-9.
Stats: Hurricane 49, Park City 28
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