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Late block of extra point lifts Park City over East, 24-23, for first win of the season

Park City senior running back and three-star recruit Carson Tabaracci scored two rushing touchdowns in the first half.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Park City Miners celebrate their 24-23 win over East High In prep football action at Park City on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021, as a final attempt at a field goal by East to potentially tie the game falls short.

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Park City • Fingertips meant the difference between overtime and the Park City High School football team’s first win of the season.

The Miners led by one point with less than 20 seconds remaining after giving up a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter. The East Leopards, who also entered Friday’s game winless, had a PAT coming with the chance to send the game into overtime.

East (0-3) senior kicker Piuleini Tausinga took a few steps back, gathered his momentum forward and connected. But a Park City player got his fingertips on the ball. The PAT missed, and the Miners won, 24-23.

“It came down to the wire,” Park City senior running back and three-star recruit Carson Tabaracci said. “We just did what we had to do to stay on top.”

Park City (1-3) led a 24-10 lead to start the fourth quarter. It took East almost nine minutes to cut the deficit in half, but did so with a 51-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Siona Vailahi to junior Spencer Black. Vailahi had to break away from Park City’s pass rush to get off the throw.

“The big play was really what gave them life,” Park City coach Josh Montzingo said. “We talked about it. The only thing we can’t do is big up a big play. … Without that, I don’t think it would’ve been a problem for us defensively.”

With just over two minutes remaining in the game, East put together a drive that lasted seven plays and from its own 26-yard line.

But a huge 26-yard run from Amone out the Leopards in good position, and they were able to convert on a third-and-1 with a 5-yard from Vailahi. A big pass from the quarterback set up the 2-yard touchdown from Amone that provided the 24-23 score.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Blake Tabaracci (15) of Park City is upended by Amini Amone (2) of East High In prep football action in Park City on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

Montzingo seemed somewhat surprised East didn’t try a two-point conversion.

“I really thought they might,” Montzingo said. “I was getting ready to take a timeout. I think they felt like they had gotten something rolling and so they could maybe roll us up a little bit in overtime.”

Tabaracci — who according to 247Sports has offers from Utah, BYU, Utah State and several major programs — scored two of the three touchdowns for the Miners. They both came in the first quarter, and one of them came on a 50-yard run after evading a slew of East defenders.

“We were dominating up front,” Tabaracci said. “The line was making blocks and we capitalized on that. It was a great start.”

Junior wide receiver Joseph Eldridge caught a touchdown pass in the second quarter from junior quarterback Chase Beyer for the team’s other score.

Senior kicker Jake Diamond scored a field goal for the Miners late in the third quarter.

Park City mixed up their attack in the second quarter. That allowed Eldridge to catch two passes from Beyer — one of 46 yards, the other a lob into the corner of the end zone — to give Park City a 21-7 advantage.

East cut its deficit in half just after the second quarter. Amone ran in a 7-yard touchdown, giving the Leopards some life after a difficult first quarter during which they allowed two touchdowns.

Just before halftime, the Leopards converted a field goal to make the score 21-10 in favor of Park City.

Tabaracci said the team’s first win felt good and was “a great step in the right direction.”

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Park City Miners celebrate their 24-23 win over East High In prep football action at Park City on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

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