If Nate Sundloff had been Murray's starting quarterback all season and performed as he did Tuesday, the Spartans probably would not have needed to win an extra game just to get into the playoffs.
Then again, Murray might not be playing any more this year had Zach Jacobs been Bountiful's starting quarterback for the Region 5 sixth-place tiebreaker.But as it is, the Sundloff-led Spartans are playoff-bound after dispatching of the Braves with an impressive 22-7 victory at Woods Cross High. Murray (4-6) will travel to Region 6 champion Timpview (6-2) for a first-round game Saturday at 1 p.m.
Jacobs, who had an emergency appendectomy last Thursday, could only watch from the sidelines as the injury-plagued Braves failed to get anything going against the team they had whipped 36-13 in their first meeting this year. Jacobs was Bountiful's catalyst in that game, as he scored two touchdowns.
Murray coach Wade Meier admitted the game would have been a lot different with Jacobs. Instead, the Braves were forced to use their fourth quarterback of the season, sophomore Erik Soderberg. That's why, after receiving some well-wishes from the Bountiful football coaching staff, Meier went directly to Jacobs following the game.
"He's one of the most outstanding players in the state," said Meier. "I wanted to tell him I felt badly for him."
Meier had only praise for his quarterback. After the Spartans turned the ball over a couple of times in the first quarter, Sundloff consistently kept Murray's option game clicking and Bountiful's defense guessing. He finished with 148 yards rushing and a touchdown for the improving Spartans.
"Nate's a great athlete who's done some great things for us," said Meier. "He really makes the option go."
Meier decided to let Sundloff take the snaps three weeks ago, while moving then-starting QB Andrew Levin to halfback.
"Coach wanted us to be a double threat," said Sundloff.
That Levin also scored a touchdown against Bountiful is proof that they have been. Since the switch, Murray has beaten the Braves, surprised Cyprus and nearly upset third-ranked Olympus. The strong finish has the Spartans believing they can make some noise in the playoffs.
"We're a lot better team than our record," said Sundloff. "I like where we're seeded. I think we can do well."
In Tuesday's other football games:
Class 4A/5A tiebreakers
Fremont 13, Mountain Crest 0: Silver Wolves QB Jerome Murray threw a 50-yard TD pass to Landon Hadley, the only score needed in a 16-minute Region 4 fifth-place tiebreaker. Dave Taylor had a 3-yard TD rush for Fremont, which plays at No. 1 Highland Saturday at 2 p.m.
Viewmont 13, Davis 10: After trailing 10-0, the Vikings rallied to gain a date against top-ranked Brighton Saturday at 1 p.m. Mason Hooper led Viewmont with 117 yards rushing and a touchdown. Dustin Johnson ended with 80 yards receiving, including a 26-yard TD reception.
Class 3A play-in games
Granite 30, Park City 16: The Farmers plowed over the Miners for the second time. Anthony Parker rushed for 234 yards and one touchdown and returned kicks 80 and 85 yards for two more scores to boost Granite, which plays at No. 2 Morgan Saturday at noon.
Carbon 27, Canyon View 25: Sparked by special teams and defense, the Dinos scored 27 straight points after falling behind 12-0. Rocky Scavo returned a fumble 60 yards for score and had an interception. Ty Alderson returned a pick 20 yards, and Steve Kerr set up a score by blocking a punt. Carbon is at Cedar Saturday at 11 a.m.