4A high school football semifinal: Bountiful proud of defensive effort despite losing
SALT LAKE CITY — By the time he kneeled to the ground on the final play of his team's epic semifinal encounter against Bountiful, Mountain Crest star QB Alex Kuresa had turned in a performance for the ages.
Kuresa completed 34-of-55 passes for 444 yards and four TDs through the air, and he rushed the ball 16 times for 95 yards and two more TDs on the ground. In doing so, Kuresa amazingly amassed 539 yards of total offense, a new career high for him and the state's seventh-highest performance of all-time.
The Mountain Crest senior, however, had to earn every single one of those yards.
Indeed, Bountiful's gutsy defensive players did everything they set out to do against Kuresa — they kept the record-setting QB in front of them, they didn't make mistakes and they were defensively sound.
To his immense credit, Kuresa found ways to ultimately beat the Braves, as he completed a 39-yard TD pass with 1:07 remaining to propel Mountain Crest to a frenetic 42-35 victory on Friday inside Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Afterward, though, you can rest assured Kuresa understood how difficult Bountiful had made life on him over 48 minutes.
"They definitely did (make it extremely tough)," said Kuresa. "Their defense had a good game plan. We know that against Bountiful, coach (Larry) Wall is one of the greatest coaches this state's ever seen. He knows how to win football games.
"They're not gonna make mistakes — that's Bountiful football. They don't make mistakes, they're very sound, they're gonna eat up clock and they're gonna break one loose every now and again. That's exactly what they did tonight. They played a hell of a football game."
That was evident for everyone who got to see Friday's instant classic.
From start to finish, Bountiful's defense chased and chased and chased Kuresa and his talented teammates, and after all was said and done, the Braves walked away with their heads held high.
"We come out and compete every game, and we play Bountiful football," said Bountiful junior Cam Zollinger, who starts at QB on offense and at safety on defense. "We played Bountiful football tonight. They had a couple of plays on us, but nobody on our team gave up.
"Kuresa's a great player. He can hurt you through the air or through the ground. We did what we could; he just had a good game."
Wall echoed those sentiments.
"I think we played 48-plus minutes right there," he said. "I think that was probably as good a high school playoff game as you're ever gonna see — back and forth and back and forth and big plays. I tip my hat to them; they did a great job.
"(Kuresa) made the big plays when he needed to."