PARK CITY -- Park City trailed St. Ignatius 18-6 late in the first half, but the Panthers rallied for a 34-24 win in the first round of the 8-Man football state playoffs on Saturday.
The Bulldogs, the West's No. 3 seed, struck first with a 5-yard touchdown pass from freshman Kellen McClure to Jedi Christy. Park City, the South's No. 2 seed, answered with a hook-and-ladder on fourth down for a 30-yard score to tie the game, 6-6.
St. Ignatius then used the big play to build a double-digit lead in the first half. McClure hit Christy for a 51-yard score, and then Troy Matt had a 60-yard touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 18-6 with 2:13 left in the first half. Park City drove down the field just before half and got a 1-yard touchdown run from quarterback Carson Baker to trim St. Ignatius's lead to 18-12 with 29 seconds left in the first half.
Park City carried that momentum over to the second half, as the Panthers scored their third consecutive touchdown -- an 8-yard run by Garrett Zimdars. St. Ignatius answered quickly, as Isaac Dumontier took a handoff 34 yards to put St. Ignatius back up 24-20 late in the third quarter.
St. Ignatius had a chance to extend its lead to open the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs deep in Park City territory. The Panthers took advantage on their next possession by using some trickery. Zimdars took a handoff, pitched back to Garrett McMillen on the reverse, and then McMillen uncorked a 22-yard touchdown pass to James Westmore, who went up and over the defender for the touchdown grab to give Park City a 28-24 lead with 7:09 to play.
The two sides traded turnovers and changed possession multiple times, but St. Ignatius had the ball deep in its own territory with a chance to take the lead late. McClure, though, was intercepted by Tucker Johnstone, who took it back 26 yards for the pick-six to put the Panthers up for good, 34-24.
St. Ignatius out-gained Park City 327-297 and were able to hold the Panthers to just 122 yards on 40 carries. Turnovers ultimately proved too costly for the Bulldogs, though, as three fourth-quarter interceptions left points on the field.
Park City will travel to Fort Benton, the top seed out of the North, after the Longhorns throttled Culbertson 62-0 on Saturday. St. Ignatius sees its season end with an 8-2 record.
8-Man football playoff scores
(Scroll through the videos above for game highlights)
Alberton-Superior 58, Shelby 21
Belt 70, Scobey 34
Drummond-Philipsburg 46, West Yellowstone 40 (2OT)
Fairview 70, Choteau 8
Fort Benton 62, Culbertson 0
Great Falls Central 41, Ekalaka 18
Park City 34, St. Ignatius 24
Thompson Falls 55, Twin Bridges 20 (Friday)