It was a tale of two halves for the San Juan High School football team when they hosted Grantsville last Friday, September 13. The Broncos took a 26-14 lead into halftime, but the Cowboys outscored them 38-6 in the second half to hand San Juan their second loss of the season.
Bronco Head Coach Barkley Christensen said his team came out fired up in the first half. Indeed, San Juan opened the scoring just 56 seconds into the game on a 55-yard bubble screen pass from Shaw Nielson to Randall Flavel.
Grantsville tied the game 6:39 later, but the Broncos scored on their ensuing possession to retake the lead. Then the San Juan defense went to work, forcing a turnover that resulted in another touchdown late in the first quarter.
The teams traded second-quarter TDs, but San Juan missed two opportunities to score when they had the ball in the red zone – once on the one yard line. Coach Christensen said, “That hurt. We could have gone into the locker room up 40-14 if we had punched those two in.”
Still, the Broncos took a 12-point lead into the break. According to Coach Christensen, a big part of the first-half momentum was a the San Juan defense, which forced four turnovers on the night.
But the wheels began to fall off for the Broncos early in the third quarter. Grantsville scored on their first possession of the second half, then took a San Juan fumble to the house mere seconds later.
With their lead erased, the Broncos needed a solid drive to grab the momentum back. But the Cowboys intercepted a Nielson pass and turned it into a back-breaking touchdown several plays later.
“The momentum shift was huge,” Christensen said. “They did a good job running with it and we didn’t bounce back.”
San Juan battled back for one touchdown to pull to within three points, but Grantsville punched in three straight down the stretch to leave the Broncos in the dust 52-32.
Despite the undesirable result, San Juan has played well against some tough opponents and Christensen says he’s encouraged going forward.
“I was proud of our guys,” he said. “We should have beat those guys. We were kind of unknown going into 3A where we fit in with these top schools. We had them down, we just have to finish it.”
“We were rolling and needed to be grounded,” Christensen continued. “For region play now our kids are more focused with still some confidence that we can play anybody in 3A.”
The Cowboys held San Juan running back Kian Conway to just 79 yards and one touchdown in the game. Shaw Nielson passed for 258 yards and two TDs, but he also threw three interceptions.
Defensively, Ladd Ivins and Kohlar Black recovered one fumble each, and Ryan Imlay and Randall Flavel grabbed an interception each for the Broncos.
San Juan drops to 3-2 on the year and they’ll begin Region 12 play against the South Sevier Rams this Friday. Kickoff’s set for 7 p.m. in Monroe, UT.