by Develon Isom, KCSG 10/28/11
“Played for each other the Thunder players most certainly did, but they nursed injuries through the week just to get to the point to be able to take the field. Some of the injured mainstays [players] on the Thunder team produced in impressive fashion, something that outsiders may have doubted. Quarterback Porter Harris (10-of 16 for 148 yards, three touchdowns and one interception) did not falter in his confidence in teammate and receiver Ty Rutledge. ’They [doctors and trainers] told Ty that he’s going to be out 12 weeks and he comes back and plays stellar,’ Harris said. ‘It’s zero to zero, and there is no next week if you don’t win; that’s the mindset we had going in.’ Harris found Rutledge four times for 93 yards and two touchdowns. Rutledge did not make any plans of sitting idle of few weeks ago after suffering from a leg injury.
‘From the get-go, ever since I got my MRI after the Hurricane game, I was determined to be back for the playoffs no matter what,’ Rutledge said. ‘And I feel that my teammates, who are going through the same things, have the same approach and thinking. We’re a tough team, and we showed it tonight. We just had a mentality of do-or-die about this game.’ Desert Hills’ offense took the defenses’ cue and made something happen. After a two-yard loss on a first down rushing play, Harris dialed up a 54-yard pass play with Rutledge to put the ball at the Park City 11 yard line. Two plays later, Harris found his prime target in the end zone for a 9-yard passing strike and after the PAT put the Thunder up 24-14 with 37 seconds left on the third quarter clock.
The Thunder faced a third down and seven on the Miners’ 30, and after setting the Miners up with the rush mentality, the Thunder duped the defense on a pass play when Harris hit a wide-open Rutledge standing in the end zone. There was no defender around, and Rutledge secured the ball and the Thunder PAT made the score 31-14 with 5:07 left in the game. ’It was set up perfectly,’ Rutledge said. ‘We had been running the ball, running the ball, running the ball, and on the third down we had to do something different because they started figuring it out. We came up with the big pass play and scored. We ran a fake hand-off and that kind of sucked the outside linebacker in, and I ran a wheel and I was just sitting in the end zone, waiting for the ball.’
Harris said he implored his offensive linemen to put the game away when they started the drive. ’Again, our whole offensive line put the drive together,’ Harris said. ‘We told them, ‘hey, we have to bang this out; we have to get it going on this drive. It all just worked out nice.’ The Thunder finished off their first home playoff win in strong fashion and now move on to the next challenge. They aren’t too caught up in the historical terms of the result, they want to keep looking at the opportunities that lay ahead. ’Our goal is to be in that Utah stadium and win up there,’ Rutledge said. ‘We have a big game next week against Stansbury and we’re looking forward to it.’ “