Box score

Park City’s defense is loaded with playmakers, and Friday night they were the catalysts once again as the Miners continued their perfect start to the 2023 season.

That stout defense forced six takeaways — including three in the fourth quarter — as Park City eked out the 21-17 win over visiting Stansbury in the key Region 10 clash.

With nine combined turnovers and a slew of penalties for both teams, it was a sloppy game for sure, but Park City is built to win those type of games with a dominant defense.

“To be honest, our defense is amazing. They’re what holds us together. They make a lot of plays,” said Park City coach Josh Montzingo, whose team improved to 6-0 overall with the win on Friday.

Of the six turnovers, two were interceptions in the end zone (Mason Christensen and Deegan McCloskey), while two more were fumble recoveries in the final three minutes (Owen Tabaracci and Corbin Towery).

Brian Walsh and Carson Navarro got in on the turnover train as well with interceptions.

“Those turnovers were huge, but our defense has been doing that all year. Obviously Stansbury was a challenge but we were ready for it,” said Towery, who iced the win with a fumble recovery with 2:01 remaining in the game and the Stallions out of timeouts.

Three weeks from now, that final fumble recovery may very well be what clinched Park City the region championship. Based on preseason results, Park City and Stansbury are the two best teams in Region 10 and both came into Friday’s game with 2-0 records.

The Miners now stand at 3-0 in region and will be huge favorites the next three weeks against Cottonwood, Jordan and Tooele.

Montzingo said getting the inside track on the region wasn’t anything he talked about with his players this week. They knew the significance.

“For us, it’s trying to be 1-0 every week,” he said. “Obviously knowing that it’s Stansbury and it’s kind of a rivalry from the old days and the old region, I think that made it bigger for us more than just the region itself.”

Even though Park City’s offense struggled at times, quarterback Sebastian Bodily made some key passes when he needed, tossing three touchdowns, including a couple fortuitous highlight-reel plays.

His first TD pass, a 60-yarder to Pierce Garner at the 10:03 mark of the second quarter, slipped through the hands of both a Park City and Stansbury player before falling into Garner’s hands as he then raced 40 yards untouched into the end zone.

Three minutes later, Bodily connected with Tyler Montzingo on a 35-yard TD strike that stretched the lead to 14-3.

Stansbury cut the lead to 14-10 by halftime as Coleman Dearden hit Kanden Hadlock on a 28-yard TD pass.

In the third quarter, Stansbury came out with a renewed focus of pounding the football, and it worked as on its second drive it marched all the way down to Park City’s 1 yard line.

The 15-play drive, however, stalled on McCloskey’s interception in the end zone.

Stansbury’s defense forced Park City into a quick punt though, and the offense struck quickly this time. It went ahead 17-14 at the 3:23 mark of the third quarter as Noah Nunley took advantage of a blown coverage to haul in a 47-yard TD reception.

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After the teams traded punts on their next two possessions, Park City put together what proved to be the winning drive.

It marched 72 yards on seven plays, with Charlie Cusimano capping it with a 59-yard TD catch in double coverage by snaring the ball up near his helmet as the Miners vaulted back in front 21-17.

Over the final 10:32 of the game, Stansbury’s offense had three opportunities to try to take the lead but each of those drives ended in a turnover.

“We’re two deep on our line, and we can just keep fresh all night,” Montzingo said. “We kind of wore them down a little bit.”

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