by Tad Barton
The San Juan Broncos got back to their winning ways last Friday night, September 4, as they hosted the Richfield Wildcats.
It took the Broncos just one quarter to match their season total for points scored, as they found the end zone four times in the opening period to jump out to a 28-0 lead.
In addition to the offensive output, the San Juan defense and special teams made big plays all night long as they limited the Wildcats to just one touchdown in route to a 51-7 victory.
It took just three offensive plays for the Broncos to find the end zone. Facing a third and seven from their own 29, Payton Palmer dropped back to pass the ball only to find no one open.
With nowhere to throw the ball, Palmer scrambled out of the pocket and up the far sideline, outrunning the defense for a 71-yard touchdown run.
Aaron Mitchell added the PAT, and San Juan led early, 7-0.
Later in the quarter, after the Bronco defense forced a three and out, junior Nathan Nielson fielded the Wildcat punt and returned it 37 yards to the Richfield 18-yard line.
It only took two plays before Palmer scored his second rushing touchdown of the night, as he took the snap and then followed some solid blocking to pay dirt. Mitchell’s PAT attempt was no good, and the Broncos led 13-0.
San Juan’s next score came less than a minute later, when Palmer blocked the Wildcat punt attempt and Jaxon Lee jumped on the loose ball in the end zone for the score.
Bronz Eldredge added a two-point conversion, as he punched the ball in from the three-yard line, giving the Broncos a 21-0.
San Juan scored one more time in the first quarter when Kavika Su’eSu’e crossed the goal line on a nine-yard run. Mitchell again added the PAT, increasing the Broncos’ lead to 28-0.
It was more of the same in the second quarter as the Broncos added another 17 points in the period. Jay McDonald was the first Bronco to score in the second when he carried the ball on a three yard run. The PAT was again good, and San Juan led 35-0.
The Broncos next score came from Mitchell, who booted the ball right through the uprights from 25 yards out to make the score 38-0 in favor of San Juan.
The Broncos then forced another three and out, setting up Nielson’s second punt return of the night. After returning his first punt return 37 yards, Nielson had to one up himself by taking his second 65 yards for another Bronco score.
Mitchell’s PAT attempt was good, and San Juan led 45-0 late in the second quarter.
Down big, the Wildcats didn’t give up and clawed their way down the field on their final possession of the first half. The Wildcat quarterback hooked up with one of his receivers with under a minute left to cut into San Juan’s lead, making the score 45-7, where it would remain until half time.
San Juan started out the second half with more great play from their defense, stopping the Wildcats on a fourth and four play deep in Bronco territory.
Palmer and company marched down the field, and Eldredge capped off the ten-play drive with a three-yard touchdown run. The PAT by Mitchell was blocked, leaving the score 51-7, where it would remain until the end of the game.
Palmer led the Broncos offensively as he finished with 140 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries. Eldredge was next on the ground with eight carries for 50 yards and a score.
Blake added 43 yards on seven rushes, while Mitchell chipped in 20 yards on one attempt. McDonald carried the ball three times for 16 yards and a touchdown, while Mason Bethea finished with nine yards on two carries.
Su’eSu’e had just one rush but made it count, as he used it to score from nine yards out. Carver Black ended up with two rushes for six yards, and Nielson rounded out the ground attack with one carry for two yards.
Due to the potent ground game, the Broncos only put the ball in the air seven times. Palmer finished the night three for six for 24 yards. Blake had the other passing attempt, a long pass that fell off the receiver’s finger tips.
On the defensive side of the ball, San Juan was led by Lee, who finished with eight stops, just ahead of Carver Black who had seven.
Eldredge and Black both had six stops; they were followed by McDonald and Su’eSu’e with five tackles each. Nielson, Reilly Myrick and Brendon Pugh each had four tackles, while four Broncos finished with three take downs, including Palmer, Baylr Eldredge, Paul Kyles and Kahlil Payton.
Mason Bethea and Mitchell each recorded two tackles. Rounding out the tackling with one tackle apiece are Jaden Torgerson, Elliot Jones, Peter Shumway, Jon Brewer and Colton Wojcik.
Myrick, Shumway and Pugh each had a sack in the game and Bronz Eldredge and Nielson logged interceptions.
Special teams came up big for San Juan in the game, resulting directly in two touchdowns for the Broncos. Lee scored when he covered a blocked punt by Palmer; Bronz Eldredge also had a blocked punt.
In addition to the blocks, San Juan’s punt return team returned three punts for 154 yards and a score. Blake had one return for 42 yards, and Nielson added 112 yards on two returns along with the touchdown.
The Broncos travel to Bluffdale, UT this Friday, September 11 to take on the Summit Academy Bears. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.