HYRUM — It was certainly fitting that Mountain Crest quarterback Alex Kuresa had one last spectacular performance in his final home game.
Kuresa completed 19 of 35 passes for 344 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Mustangs to a 56-26 win over East in the 4A quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. Kuresa, the state's all-time leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completions and total offense, also rushed for 117 yards and two touchdowns.
"It's been a lot of blood, sweat and tears on this field," Kuresa said. "It's good to finish right."
Kuresa may be done on his home field but his quest for a state championship continues. The Mustangs advance to play former league rival Bountiful in the semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium next Friday at 2:30 p.m.
"Obviously he's been a great player for us and we'll miss him," Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton said of Kuresa. "It's coming to an end for him. He'll be ready to go."
While Kuresa played superbly on Friday, he will be the first to say it was a total team effort by the Mustangs in their blowout victory.
Mountain Crest forced seven turnovers with sophomore Faimafili Laulu-Pututau leading the way with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. The Mustangs' defense allowed East quarterback Tanner Curtis to rush for nearly 200 yards in the first half, but adjusted and blew the game open after halftime.
"They were awfully physical with us at first," Wootton said. "We were able to do some things. Our kids just kept battling and battling and making plays. We knew what we had to do. They made some big plays but we made a few more."
As small as Mountain Crest is, one had to question how it would match up with the big and physical Leopards. The Mustangs handled themselves just fine in that area.
"We're undersized — a lot," Kuresa said. "The way we practice, the way we play together, the chemistry we have, the love we have for each other makes up for it. Teams like that (East) people don't see how we beat them but we do it week-in and week-out and we look to do it two more weeks."
The Mustangs' win over the Leopards started with fireworks. Both teams scored two touchdowns in the first quarter and the game appeared to be shaping into a classic shootout.
East, however, couldn't keep up. Kuresa scored on a 21-yard run to give Mountain Crest the lead for good at 21-20, and he tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to Troy Pickett in the final minute of the second quarter to make it 28-20.
The second half was all Mountain Crest. Kuresa and Pickett, who finished with 128 receiving yards, hooked up for two more touchdowns to make it 42-20. Sophomore Eddy Hall added two rushing scores in the fourth quarter.8 comments on this story
It was a perfect day for the Mustangs, who learned that they won't have to get through Timpview — the team that has eliminated them from the playoffs the past three seasons — to win the state title. Mountain Crest, however, hardly reacted when the T-Birds' loss to Springville went final.
"We're not focused on that," Kuresa said. "Everyone heard that Timpview lost. It doesn't matter to us. We'll play whoever. All that matters is we won and we're still playing. "