Brighton running back Kace Gurr rumbled for four touchdowns and the Bengals rallied for 30 unanswered second half points to topple Park City in a 47-33 shootout Friday.
“I was really proud of the way the kids responded in the second half. Defensively, we shut them out where we really struggled in the first half and offensively, they did a great job,” Brighton coach Casey Sutera said. “We did an awesome job responding and making plays when we had to.”
Brighton scored on the opening snap from scrimmage after Gurr spun out of a Park City tackle and broke open a 63-yard touchdown to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead.
“I just got the ball and I think the backside end just grabbed me and I twisted off, put my head down and ran,” Gurr said. “Everyone else had their blocks and I just finished it.”
Park City spread the ball to a litany of weapons and methodically marched down the field with a 16-play drive in response to set up a 5-yard Mason Grover scoring scamper to make it 7-7 with 6:33 in the first quarter.
Brighton’s offense got caught peeking upfield on a fumbled toss and a Brian Walsh recovery gifted the Miners a short field. Grover capitalized and barreled in for his second touchdown of the night from a yard out and a touchdown advantage with 10:35 left in the opening quarter.
The Bengals kicked their passing offense into gear with a pair of big connections between quarterback Jack Johnson and tight end Miles Peters to key Gurr’s second score of the evening with an untouched 4-yard score up the middle — knotting the score up at 14 all.
Grover broke open the ensuing drive with a 79-yard gain up the Brighton sideline, but the Miners needed all four downs afterward and a keeper dive from quarterback Chase Beyer to get into the end zone from a yard out, 21-14.
Brighton stalled and Park City brought out the trick play flea flicker with Beyer flinging it 62 yards for a Joseph Eldridge score and a 27-14 lead with 3:02 left until halftime after a missed extra point.
The Miners defense harried Johnson for two sacks to force another punt and the Beyer-Eldridge connection paid off again with a 9-yard back shoulder toss and commanding 33-14 advantage after a failed two-point conversion.
Brighton struggled throughout the first half with Park City’s pre-snap offensive motion in diagnosing where the threat was coming from. Sutera got after his team at halftime to awaken defensively and impose a sharper mentality.
“We knew that they were going to do a lot of that,” Sutera said. “They do it because it gets your eyes undisciplined and our guys did a lot better job of being disciplined in the second half with their keys and assignments on defense.”
Brighton ate up yardage quickly on their final possession of the first half and Abinadi Bigelow sent a 40-yard field goal through the uprights to get the Bengals within two possessions at the break, 33-17.
After the teams traded interceptions, Brighton pieced together a 14-play, 85-yard drive capped with Gurr’s third scoring effort on a 7-yard toss that he stretched into the end zone along the Bengals sideline.
“Holy cow, he is playing great football right now for us,” Sutera said. “He runs hard and he set the tone there. I knew Kace came to play and then everybody else followed him in the second half.”
Kava Taufa rushed for a two-point conversion and the Bengals were within one score at the end of the third quarter.
Brighton’s defense bottled up Grover and forced a punt, putting the ball in Johnson’s hands, who slung it 19 yards to hit Nash Matheson in scoring stride and followed with another toss to Quincy Covington for the converted two-point try to tie the game, 33-33, with 8:18 left.
Taufa came up big on the ensuing Park City drive, recovering a fumble that teed up another Johnson-Matheson touchdown from 11 yards out to give Brighton its first lead since the opening drive of the game, 40-33.
The Bengals stood firm on a Park City fourth down attempt after jarring a nearly completed pass loose on the sideline and Gurr put the final stamp on the result with a 32-yard scoring gash right up the middle for the 47-33 win.
“This has been the goal, it puts us in the driver’s seat in the region and we almost let that slip,” Sutera said. “But at halftime, the kids banded together and I told them to be together and we’ll finish this the right way.”