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Grizz pull off miracle win over Miners

Logan's Duncan Olsen, right, blocks a punt by Park City's Tony Epperson that Logan's Jordan Ballam, left, covered in the end zone for a game-winning touchdown.
Logan's Duncan Olsen, right, blocks a punt by Park City's Tony Epperson that Logan's Jordan Ballam, left, covered in the end zone for a game-winning touchdown.
Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News

LOGAN — The Park City-Logan showdown was supposed to be the best first-round game in Class 3A.

Talk about an understatement.

The Grizzlies' incredible 24-23 victory — capped by a touchdown off a blocked punt with 18 seconds remaining to complete a 13-point fourth-quarter comeback — just might end up being the best playoff game in the whole state.

"That's one of the phenomenal belief stories that Logan players kept believing," said Logan coach Mike Favero. "Miracles do happen."

Then just call Duncan Olsen, who blocked the punt, and Jordan Ballam, who recovered it for the unbelievable touchdown, a couple of miracle-makers.

"It's a dream come true," Ballam said with a huge smile. "I can't even explain it. I'm still trying to figure out if it's true."

All the Grizzlies, who host Delta in next week's 3A quarterfinals, might still be pinching themselves.

Park City, however, is probably still trying to figure out how another nightmare happened after suffering a second stinging first-round setback in a row. The way this one played out might even be more heartbreaking than when the then-undefeated Miners lost to eventual 3A runner-up Snow Canyon in 2006.

Teary-eyed Park City coach Brandon Matich kept his postgame thoughts short and subdued after his team finished at 8-3.

"I love my seniors," he said. "I love them with all my heart."

Two of those upperclassmen — running back Matt Wright (135 yards rushing, two TDs) and quarterback Searle Vincent (104 yards rushing, one TD) — nearly carried the Miners into the elusive quarterfinals.

They each had second-half scores to give the Miners a 23-10 lead with 10:18 to go. But a missed extra point on Wright's second TD came back to haunt Park City.

Logan quarterback Jeff Manning cut the Miners' lead to 23-17 with his second touchdown at the 8:35 mark. But things still looked bleak for the Grizzlies late in this classic.

Trailing by six, the Grizzlies turned the ball over on downs with 1:14 remaining when a fourth-and-3 pass play came up a foot short.

A jubilant Park City took over on its own 23, hoping to run out the clock. However, a stifling Grizzlies' rush defense and back-to-back penalties forced the Miners to punt from their 16 with 25 seconds left.

That's when Olsen and Ballam made something — a miracle? magic? marvelous? — happen. The Grizzlies rushed 10 players at Park City, and Ballam, a free safety, took off to the outside. That opened up a lane for Olsen, who stuffed the football as it left the punter's cleat.

"I dove and hit it (the ball) with both of my hands," Olsen said. "I just Superman dove. ... I just went for it."

Ballam dogpiled on the ball just before it rolled out of bounds for a safety and before teammates swarmed him. Josh Thompson's extra point gave the Grizzlies their winning score, secured seconds later when Josh Thatcher picked off Park City's final pass.

"I think it shows," Olsen added, "we're never going to give up no matter what.


E-mail: jody@desnews.com