Broncos 2-0 after impressive win
by Rhett Sifford
The Utah football 2A game of the week between the #1 San Juan Broncos and #3 Summit Academy Bears Friday, August 19 in Bluffdale promised to be a close, exciting battle. Many around the state said it would be the Broncos returning home with their first loss of the young season.
But those words were silenced swiftly and decisively when San Juan quarterback Parker Snyder struck for not one but two 60+ yard touchdown passes to receiver Jerzy Nieves in his first two attempts of the game.
The Broncos led 14-0 before the people had even settled into their seats at the Summit Academy football field.
The Bear defense recovered from their shock and slowed the San Juan offense to a more believable level, but the Broncos did add one more touchdown in the second quarter, a 21-yard run by Zack Conway.
The real story of the first half was the San Juan defense. They were lights-out, allowing just 192 yards of total offense to Summit and a paltry 25 yards rushing.
Though you can’t expect to completely shut down the top-ranked 2A quarterback in the state, Devin Watson, the Broncos really had his number.
But, like San Juan in the opening quarter, the Bears were quick to start the second half. They got a 35-yard kick return from Josh Gomez, then Watson and the offense took it the rest of the way for their first score of the night.
The Broncos answered almost immediately when Snyder dropped the ball off to Conway at midfield on a screen. He had blockers downfield and he screamed through the pack down the sideline for his second touchdown of the night.
The offense continued when Summit Academy responded four minutes later on a ten-yard pass from Watson to standout receiver Koa Sylvester.
Then San Juan took what they thought was a commanding lead. They scored back-to-back touchdowns with 30 seconds left in the third quarter and 3:31 into the fourth to go up 42-14. Snyder scored on a 30-yard run and Conway got his third of the night on a 75-yard blast right up the middle.
Like Layton Christian in game one of the season though, Summit Academy wasn’t going out without a fight. On the first play from scrimmage after the Bronco TD, Watson found Sylvester again, this time on a short middle slant for a stunning 92-yard touchdown.
That’s when San Juan fans started to get a little nervous. The Bears executed a perfect onside kick to get the ball back immediately and took just 20 seconds to strike again on a 20 yard pass from Watson to Josh Morrill.
Another perfectly-executed special teams play, a pooch to an open section of the field, gave Summit the ball back yet again at the San Juan 18 and Bronco fans were really nervous then.
But San Juan got the gigantic defensive stop they needed. On third down, Hudson Whatcott made an open-field tackle on Gomez to stop the Bears one yard short of a first down.
Then on fourth down Watson made one of his only mistakes of the game, missing Gomez on a short slant. That turned the ball back over to San Juan and the Broncos methodically marched all the way down the field using the remaining 6:30 of the game to close out a solid 42-28 win.
Coming into the game San Juan Head Coach Barkley Christensen said their main task following their win over Layton Christian was to watch the film from that game and fix the things they had done wrong.
They did that in spades. The 2022 San Juan Broncos are a far cry from a “rebuilding” team. They look amazingly solid, poised to challenge for back-to-back state championships. After the win over Summit Academy this past Friday, they are clearly the team to beat in 2A.
Junior quarterback Parker Snyder was impressive again. He was 12 of 18 on the night, throwing for 288 yards and three more touchdowns. He ran for 167 more yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Zack Conway had the game of his career, taking main running back duties over for an injured Magnum Nielson. The junior ran for 224 yards with two touchdowns and added 91 yards receiving with one TD.
Jerzy Nieves wasn’t too shabby either, catching three Snyder passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
The Bears were explosive as expected, but not until the second half, thanks entirely to the defensive prowess of the Broncos in the first two quarters.
Junior Trace Bennett led the team in tackles with 13. Nieves and Jordan Duke made 12 stops apiece and Brad Duke got ten tackles. But truly the whole defense worked together to lead in the win.
After the game Christensen told the Deseret News, “We keep having young kids step up and show they can perform on the big stage. Our rushing attack was phenomenal and…Snyder is lights out right now. I am very pleased with this young team that is only getting better.”
The Broncos will take their 2-0 record into Colorado this Friday, August 26 to take on the Bayfield Wolverines. San Juan handled them easily last season 30-0, but Bayfield will surely be gunning for one of the best teams in the Four Corners area.
The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Bayfield High School football field and you can watch the game live on pictureitpalmer.com. Redrock 92 Radio is experiencing studio equipment issues. If those are solved by Friday, the game will also be broadcast on 92.7 FM as usual.