HYRUM — In the first round of the 4A state playoffs, Mountain Crest dominated Payson, scoring on both sides of the ball in a 52-6 lopsided victory.
Mustang senior quarterback Alex Kuresa opened the scoring with a 22-yard scamper late in the first quarter to make it 7-0. Kuresa added four more touchdown passes, two to Troy Pickett, in the rout. Mountain Crest had seven total touchdowns, two of them earned in the rushing game.
"It felt good," Pickett said. "We've got to come out fast and finish strong. We've got to have the running game; one set up the other."
In the second quarter, Payson faked a punt on 4th and 19 deep in its own territory, giving Mountain Crest the ball at the 8-yard line. This set up a subsequent pass from Kuresa to junior receiver Cody Perkes on the next play to give the Mustangs a 14-0 lead.
Mountain Crest was able to score the first 35 points in the game. In the final minute of the half, senior running back Nate Rigby took a handoff from the four-yard line to go up 21-0. Mountain Crest head coach Mark Wootton said his team did a nice job.
"We came out a little flat. It's hard to have tremendous energy all the time," Wootton said. "Our defense did a great job. We executed well. Took care of business."
Payson's lone touchdown came in the third quarter when sophomore quarterback Devin Judd threw to running back Mosiai Kaufusi, who gained 56 yards after the catch to put his team on the board for the first and last time. After the blocked PAT attempt, the score was 35-6.
Junior defensive back Keegan Mitton said Mountain Crest's defense played great.
"Our defense works hard every week," Mitton said. "We want a shutout every week. That's what we're aiming for."
Mitton scored on a 53-yard fumble recovery after fellow junior Tanner Richardson forced the ball to pop loose as he made a tackle.
"It was great," Mitton said of the touchdown. "The defense worked hard and everything just worked out for me."
The Mustangs had more than 500 yards total offense, spreading the ball out to their talent-laden team. Wootton said he mentioned the importance of good field position to his Mustangs before the game.
"(Payson) had a pretty good game plan," Wootton said. "As a coach, when players do what you've taught them to do, that's a rush."
Next week, the Mustangs will face the winner of the 8-2 East vs. 8-1 Westlake game at home in Hyrum. Wootton told his team it will need to play hard for its final home game of the season, regardless of who the opponent will be.
"It will be over next week if we don't prepare," Wootton said.
Pickett added remarks that echoed his coach's statement.
"We'll have to play our best," the senior said.