San Juan football team builds momentum with second straight win, 34-3 over Bayfield

The San Juan High School football team continued to build a little early-season momentum this past Friday, August 27 when they put together a solid 34-3 win over the Bayfield Wolverines in front of a large home crowd at the San Juan High School football field.

The Broncos nearly scored on the first play of the game when Jerzy Nieves returned the opening kickoff 67 yards from his own 12 to the Bayfield 21. Only a shoestring tackle by Nic Twedt saved a touchdown.

Three plays later San Juan hadn’t mustered a first down and it looked like the Wolverines might stop the Broncos’ first drive. But big Jensen Grover took a handoff at the 12-yard line and rumbled through the Bayfield defense into the end zone for the first score of the night.

San Juan newcomer and transfer from Oregon Qwentyn Petty came on to nail the extra point with ease and the Broncos led 7-0 just 1:22 into the game.

On Bayfield’s first possession, the Wolverines moved the ball steadily, from deep in their own territory down to the San Juan 25 before the Bronco defense stood tall and came up with a stop to force a turnover on downs.

San Juan was driving on their ensuing possession, but quarterback Jace Palmer fumbled on the Bayfield 35 to bring a sudden halt to the drive.

Then the Bronco defense bent but didn’t break again, forcing another turnover on downs after Bayfield had driven from their own territory to near the San Juan red zone.

San Juan couldn’t move the ball on their next possession and suffered a turnover on downs on their own 35 early in the second quarter. Once again, the Broncos called on their defense to bail them out early in the game.

They were up to the task. Though the Wolverines drove the ball down inside the Bronco ten, San Juan executed a gutsy goal-line stand, forcing a Bayfield field goal attempt.

The kick was good, making the score 7-3 with 9:07 left in the first half. It was the last time the Wolverines would alter their side of the scoreboard.

From that point in the game, the Bronco defense largely shut down Bayfield as the San Juan offense began to take control of the game.

Beginning from their own 39 on their next possession, San Juan put together a solid scoring drive that culminated with a 36-yard pass from Palmer to Cooper Black and a one-yard touchdown run by Grover.

On their next possession, San Juan added their third touchdown of the game on a 20-yard pass from Palmer to Ladd Ivins, and the Broncos took a 21-3 lead into halftime.

San Juan picked up right where they left off to start the second half, forcing a Bayfield punt, then scoring on a 25-yard pass from Palmer to Jerzy Nieves.

The Broncos punched in their fifth and final touchdown of the night on their next possession on a three-yard pass from Palmer to Landon Black to increase their lead to 34-3.

From that point, the teams closed out the remaining 18 minutes of the game uneventfully. San Juan largely utilized JV players, specifically in the fourth quarter.

It was a reasonably convincing win for the Broncos, who put together 375 yards of total offense on the night. Senior quarterback Jace Palmer threw for 235 of those yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He completed 16 of his 27 passing attempts for 59 percent.

His main target was Ladd Ivins, who caught nine passes for 130 yards and a TD. Cooper Black caught two passes for 58 yards. Jerzy Nieves ended the night with 36 yards on three catches and a touchdown. And Landon Black had 11 yards on two receptions and a TD.

The Bronco running game was not overwhelming, but got the job done. Jensen Grover led the way with 57 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Backup quarterback, sophomore Parker Snyder came on to rush for 31 yards on four carries.

Sophomore backup running back Zach Conway picked up 27 yards rushing on six carries. And Jace Palmer ended the night with four runs for 25 yards.

One of the main goals the Broncos had in the game was to shut down the Wolverine running game, and they did just that, allowing just 22 yards all night. But Bayfield was able to get some production in the passing game, to the tune of 211 yards.

Junior Magnum Nielson led the San Juan defensive effort with ten tackles. Ivins and Tyler Bayles had nine apiece, Grover made eight tackles, and Austin Pemberton finished the night with seven.

The Broncos got good pressure on Bayfield quarterback Isaac Ross, sacking him 11 times in the game. Bayles and Bronson Snyder led San Juan in that department with four sacks apiece. Snyder leads the nation in sacks now, with seven on the young season. Chance Hoggard, Tyler Winn, and Calvin McFarland all added one sack apiece.

And when he went four-of-five on PATs in the game, it became apparent the Broncos may have placed the last piece to their state-title-contending puzzle with the addition of Qwentyn Petty.

Kickers don’t often receive a lot of glory, but extra points are key in football, and you never know when you might need that 30-yard game-winning field goal late in the season.

San Juan head coach Barkley Christensen was proud of his players following the win on Friday. “Bayfield was a scrappy football team. They challenged us in ways we didn’t expect and this one feels good,” he said.

“We challenged our players and they rose up to it. They give me everything they got every Friday night,” Christensen added.

With the win San Juan improves to 2-1 on the year and they’re set for another tough test this Friday, September 3. They’re looking for their third straight win when they travel to Milford to take on the 1A #4-ranked Tigers.

Milford lost their season opener to 1A #1 Duchesne but are coming off back-to-back lopsided wins over Rich and Monticello. Coach Christensen expects to face a challenging “air-raid” attack from the Tigers.

Kickoff’s set for 7 p.m. Friday night, and you can catch every play live on Redrock 92 and

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