Bronco football team battles but comes up short in Richfield
The San Juan High School football team was looking for their third win in a row when they arrived in Richfield, UT this past Friday, October 2.
They knew it would be tough, they knew they were underdogs, and they knew it would be an upset if they could topple the streaking Wildcats. But they were ready for the challenge.
The Broncos came into the game 5-2 overall, ranked tenth in 3A Utah football. They had dropped two spots in the previous two weeks despite wins over South Sevier and Grand.
Richfield was ranked fifth in the state, they were riding a three-game win streak, and they were 6-1 overall. The two teams were tied for the Region 12 lead with 2-0 records.
San Juan controlled the play for most of the opening quarter. Ladd Ivins returned the opening kick right up the middle of the field to the 45 yard line.
The Broncos then used the passing game to march downfield, taking just five plays to open the scoring 1:50 into the game on a pretty 25-yard pass from Jace Palmer to Cooper Black.
The teams traded scoreless possessions until San Juan had the ball late in the quarter and was driving through the middle of the field.
With the clock running down and the Broncos facing a third and five, Palmer slung the ball to the left side in an attempt to connect with Ivins.
Unfortunately, Richfield’s Kasey Giddings was waiting for the pass, intercepted it, and returned it 45 yards to the house for the Wildcats’ first touchdown of the night.
Both teams’ first PATs failed, so the score was tied 6-6 with six seconds left in the first quarter. Following the Richfield score, the Broncos came out with a purpose.
Ivins again got an excellent kick return, this time 75 yards to the Wildcat 15 yard line to close out the quarter.
San Juan scored to retake the lead on the opening play of the second quarter, a 15-yard pass from Palmer to Ivins. Again the PAT failed, and the Broncos led 13-7.
From that point, the hometown squad was able to wrestle the momentum away from the visitors. The Wildcats rattled off three unanswered touchdowns that stretched from 8:33 remaining in the second quarter to 9:56 left in the third.
Finally San Juan was able to fight back to score on a one-yard Jace Palmer run with 3:31 to go in the third to make the score 27-20. But Richfield answered just two minutes later to establish a two-score lead once again.
The Broncos weren’t giving up though, and they battled through the fourth quarter. Trailing 34-20, they drove the ball inside the Wildcat 10 yard line for a first and goal with 4:55 still remaining in the game.
But Richfield put together their strongest stand of the game, miraculously keeping the Broncos out of the end zone while the clock ran down to 2:50 to go.
From that point, Richfield got the ball back, earned a first down, and ran out the remainder of the time. The story of the game was the Richfield running back, senior Kasey Giddings.
He was more than the Broncos could handle all night, single-handedly running the ball for nearly 200 yards and scoring four of the Wildcats’ five touchdowns, including the pick-six in the first quarter.
On the other side of the ball, the Richfield defense allowed virtually nothing on the ground. San Juan rushed for just 45 yards as a team on the night.
Ladd Ivins was the standout player for the Broncos. He was almost impossible to bring down on special teams, collecting 132 yards on three kick returns.
He and Palmer connected through the air for 171 yards and a TD on the night.
Palmer passed for an impressive 275 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions.
So the Broncos continued to struggle in the turnover department and committed a couple penalties at key moments also.
Curiously, though they drop to 5-3 with the loss, San Juan moves back up one spot to ninth in the 3A RPI standings.
They’ll try to get back into the win column in a Region 12 matchup with the 1-7 Carbon Dinos in Blanding this Friday.
The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. and you can catch all the action live on Redrock 92.7 FM, audio streaming at redrock92.com, and video streaming at pictureitpalmer.com.
The broadcast is part of a doubleheader of football that will feature Monticello vs. Layton Christian at 4 p.m. and the Broncos vs. the Dinos at 7 p.m.