Broncos survive scare, pull off comeback win
by Rhett Sifford
The San Juan High School football team was due for a stiff challenge. Following back-to-back blowout victories over Bayfield and Milford, the wins were starting to come too easy.
The Bronco coaching staff is not guilty of overlooking any team this season. But, as head coach Barkley Christensen said after his team’s game with Canyon View this past Friday, September 9, some folks, including some players, may have expected the Falcons to just roll over for them.
It’s understandable. A year ago San Juan smoked Canyon View in Cedar City 42-7. But this season the 3A Falcons were much improved and looking to upset the 2A defending champs. New head coach Burke Miller had his squad well prepared for their visit to Blanding.
Right from the opening kickoff it was destined to be a different game than what San Juan was used to. For the first time in two seasons the Broncos were forced to kick off to begin the game.
Canyon View ran the kick back to the 30 yard line, then promptly executed a very convincing 70-yard drive, capped with a 22-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jaxon Jensen to All-State receiver Nick Macias.
For the first time this season, and for the first time since October 1, 2021 at Delta, the Broncos trailed their opponent in a football game.
And though they answered the Falcons’ opening volley three minutes later with a nice drive and a TD pass from Parker Snyder to Keaton Ivins, they trailed for most of the first half.
On their next possession, Canyon View retook the lead, capping an 83-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass again from Jensen to Macias.
Trailing 14-7 late in the first quarter, the wheels started to fall off a bit for the San Juan offense when they lost three fumbles in their next three possessions. Somehow the defense picked up the slack and didn’t allow a single point to result from those turnovers.
The Broncos were finally able to hang onto the ball when they got it with just over five minutes left in the half, building a beautiful 90-yard drive that concluded with a 30-yard TD pass from Snyder to a wide open Anthony Done.
When Canyon View jumped offside on the point-after try, San Juan elected to go for two on the retry. Snyder broke a tackle and fell into the end zone to give the Broncos their first lead of the game 15-14.
That lead didn’t even last a minute. Facing a third and eight situation from his own 22 yard line, Jensen found Karver Mock for a 78-yard touchdown pass right through the middle of the field, giving the Falcons a 21-15 lead after one half of play.
But the home squad regrouped during halftime and came out with a new mission in the second half. On their opening possession, the Broncos took just 1:22 to march 69 yards down the field and score on a three-yard pass from Snyder to Garrett Young, tying the game at 21.
Again the San Juan defense stood strong, forcing Canyon View to punt on their first possession of the second half. Then the Bronco offense took over, driving 54 yards in just 1:09 to take their first legitimate lead on a four-yard pass from Snyder to Done.
Late in the third quarter the Falcons executed a strong drive and scored to tie the game again on a four-yard run from quarterback Jaxon Jensen.
Early in the fourth quarter San Juan fumbled yet again, but the Bronco defense was up to the task one more time, shutting down the Canyon View offense.
That allowed the San Juan offense to put together one final scoring drive midway through the frame. Starting at their own 38, they got a boost from a Falcon personal foul that moved the ball into Canyon View territory.
On third down at the 17 yard line, Snyder found Jerzy Nieves at the pylon with a pass. Nieves beat his defender for the catch to give the Broncos back the lead and a Shawn Black extra point made the score 35-28.
Canyon View took the next couple minutes methodically moving the ball across midfield to the San Juan 38, setting up the play of the game. On third and four Jensen heaved the ball deep downfield where Garrett Young beat Logan Maine on a jump ball for a game-ending interception.
It’s not exactly how the Broncos drew it up, but it was an exciting game and a thrilling come-from-behind win nonetheless.
Coach Christensen was excited that his team was “able to come out on top in a very physical football game against a really good team.” He also expressed pride that “some young guys stepped up in a big way.”
But he wasn’t too excited about the Broncos’ slow start or the way they played, specifically in the turnover department. San Juan fumbled the ball five times and their only takeaway was Young’s key interception.
It’s the type of game midway through the season that can really help a team get better for the second half of the year. Christensen commented that it reminded him of the adversity they faced against Delta at the midpoint last season.
The Canyon View defense was clearly very prepared for the Bronco offense. The Falcons allowed just 60 yards rushing to a San Juan squad that was averaging 244 coming into the game. The Broncos’ offensive production came exclusively through the air, to the tune of 468 yards.
Quarterback Parker Snyder threw for another five touchdowns on the night. He has simply been amazing this season and has now thrown for 1,630 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Receiver Anthony Done had another excellent night with 137 yards and two touchdowns. Garrett Young, Jerzy Nieves, and Keaton Ivins all caught a TD apiece in the win. Young finished with 108 yards, Nieves had 98, and Ivins tallied 69.
But the real story was the San Juan defense. They shut down the Canyon View offense every time the Broncos turned the ball over and they came up with several stops on their own side of midfield.
The team will definitely have much to look at during practice this week as they get set to head into 2A South Region play for the remainder of the season.
This Friday, September 16 they’ll come up against a South Sevier squad that has struggled through the first half of the season. The Rams lost to 1A teams North Sevier and Enterprise and they’re coming off a 53-12 loss to rival Richfield.
The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Monroe, UT and it will stream live on PictureItPalmer.com with the pregame starting at 6:30 p.m.