by Tad Barton
It’s not baseball season although the final score of the Broncos 2A football quarterfinal game against Millard looked more like a score from a diamond rather than a gridiron.
Two schools known for their great football traditions showcased great defense throughout the competition as neither offense could find the end zone until the game’s final minute.
Trailing 5-0 with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter, San Juan started their final drive near midfield and capped it off with a seven yard touchdown pass from Payton Palmer to Bronz Eldredge. The two point conversion failed, but the six points was enough for the Broncos to claim their tenth win of the season.
The Eagles got on the board first in the second quarter as they recorded a safety after the Broncos mishandled a punt. Three possessions later, Millard added a field goal pushing the score to 5-0 just before the half.
Just as in the first half, San Juan and Millard traded punches throughout most of the second half, with neither team able to gain any momentum on the offensive side of the ball.
The Broncos found themselves in a do or die situation still trailing 5-0 after they forced an Eagle punt with just over two minutes left in the game. Trason Jack got things started with a huge run on the Bronco’s first play of the drive. With some good blocking from his teammates he advanced the ball from the 47-yard line to the 26.
Palmer then found Eldredge for a short gain and then hooked up with DiQuan Lopez for four more yards. After an incomplete pass on third down the Broncos faced fourth and one. Behind his offensive line Palmer picked up the first on a quarterback sneak.
With a new set of downs Palmer went back to work this time scrambling for a six-yard gain up to the seven yard line. On the next play Bronco fans erupted as Palmer hit Eldredge for the score with just 1:09 left on the game clock to give the Broncos a 6-5 lead. The pass on the two point conversion attempt fell incomplete, leaving the score 6-5 in favor of San Juan.
The Broncos sealed the deal on Millard’s final drive when an Eldredge blitz up the middle hit the Eagles’ running back and forced a fumble. Holden Smith jumped on the ball for San Juan with just over 30 seconds remaining in the game. Two kneel-downs later by the Broncos and San Juan found itself with another victory and a ticket to the 2A semifinals.
Offensively, San Juan finished the game with 259 yards of offense, 136 on the ground and 123 through the air. Jack led the San Juan ground attack with 81 yards on five attempts he was followed by Palmer who ran the ball 11 times for 25 yards. Eldredge added 21 yards on three carries. Kavika Su’eSu’e, Max Morley and Grant Laws each carried the ball twice for six, four and negative one yards respectively.
Passing the ball, Palmer ended the day going 12 of 29 for 123 yards one touchdown and three interceptions. On the receiving end of Palmer’s passes, Eldredge led the way with three grabs for 46 yards and a score. Jonathon Lewis had to key receptions for 32 yards. Jack also had two catches as did Morley for 22 and two yards respectively. Laws pulled in one pass for nine yards, while Lopez added one for four yards and Brittain Bowring had one for eight yards.
On defense, the Broncos were led by Eldredge who racked up 19 tackles and a forced fumble. Not to be outdone, Jack tallied 16 stops of his own. Laws also hit double-digit stops with ten, including three tackles for loss. Morley was next with seven tackles a forced fumble and a sack. Palmer finished the day with five tackles just ahead of Bowring, Easton Lee and Holden Smith who each had four tackles. Smith also had a fumble recovery. Right behind them are Lopez and Su’eSu’e with three stops followed by Jordan Blake, Braxton Brown, Jay McDonald and Jonathon Lewis who all finish with two tackles each.
San Juan travels to Ogden to take on Summit Academy at Weber State University. Kickoff is Friday at 1:30 p.m.