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Football: Park falls to Cadets in overtime 13-7

Park linebacker Alex Haliburton tackles St. Thomas Academy quarterback Will Herzog with teammates Mahdi Benalshaikh (29) and Jaeden Stovall (50) in pursuit. John Molene / contributor1 / 4
It was a punishing night for Park senior quarterback Grant Glazier. Glazier (15) came into the game with a pair of shoulder injuries. He tried to play, mostly in the third quarter, but re-injured his shoulders and was sidelined the rest of the way. John Molene / contributor2 / 4
Park's Andrew Diaz (29), Payton Shafer (9) and Mahdi Benalshaikh (23) surround a St. Thomas Academy receiver in the second half Saturday. John Molene / contributor3 / 4
Park's Andrew Diaz (29), Payton Shafer (9) and Mahdi Benalshaikh (23) surround a St. Thomas Academy receiver in the second half Saturday. John Molene / contributor4 / 4

A wounded Park team battled gamely, but couldn’t survive in overtime in a 13-7 season-ending loss to St. Thomas Academy Saturday, Oct. 28.

The second-seeded Wolfpack lost star senior quarterback Grant Glazier to injuries most of the game, and despite a heroic effort to send the game into overtime, their tank finally ran dry.

St. Thomas Academy broke a scoreless tie on fourth-and-three from the 25-yard line when quarterback Will Herzog passed to Andrew Johnson with 7:40 to play in the fourth quarter.

Park couldn’t move on its next possession, but the defense held and forced a punt by the Cadets. Then, on a final do-or-die drive, the Wolfpack offense started clicking.

A pass by junior backup quarterback Marshaun Campbell was hauled in by Payton Shafer for a first-and-goal at the one-yard line. Park scored on a 1-yard run by senior running back Alex Haliburton with just 1:34 left and Matt Moreland’s kick was good to knot the score at 7-all.

St. Thomas didn’t attempt a pass on the final possession, but then choose to defer after winning the coin toss to start overtime.

Park’s Campbell was sacked on back-to-back plays on second and third downs, leaving the Wolfpack only a desperation chance to score on their overtime possession. Campbell’s fourth-and-26 pass intended for wide receiver Edmond Nkwain was intercepted in the end zone.

St. Thomas then ran the ball three straight times, scoring the game-winner on third-and-three on a quarterback keeper by Herzog.

“I told them (the Park players) that that one hurt,” Wolfpack head coach Darin Glazier said. “It wasn’t the way we wanted to see the season end, obviously, but to keep your heads up, be proud of the things they did accomplish this year.

“We’ll miss the seniors and all the hard work they put in,” the coach added. “They were a great group to coach, and the rest of the guys — looking forward to next season with them.”

St. Thomas Academy (6-4) advanced to the Section 3AAAAA finals and will play at top-seeded Apple Valley Friday, Nov. 3. Apple Valley crushed Hastings 56-13 in the other section semifinal to advance.

The loss snapped Park’s three-game winning streak over St. Thomas Academy.

Park finished the season with a 6-3 record. The Wolfpack have gone 19-9 the last three years but have fallen in the section finals or semifinals each season.

Glazier gamely tried to go at quarterback, coming in for the last series of the first half and played most of the third quarter. But he reinjured previous shoulder injuries with three minutes to go in the third quarter and was sidelined the rest of the way.

In addition to Grant Glazier, Park was without leading rusher Uriah Davis for most of the game as he, too, was injured.

“Injuries kind of caught us at the end here,” coach Glazier said.