Broncos drop opener to Braves, 26-7

by Tad Barton
Last Friday night kicked off the 2015 high school football season for most teams in the state of Utah, as was the case for the San Juan Broncos as they hosted the defending 2A state champs, South Summit Wildcats.
In a game that many across the state were billing as a possible preview to this year’s finals matchup, the Wildcats came out on top, besting the Broncos 26-7.
South Summit got on the board first, scoring on a 67-yard run. The PAT was no good leaving the score 6-0 early in the game.
After being forced to punt on their next possession, the Broncos had the Wildcat’s facing a fourth and six when a blown coverage assignment resulted in South Summit’s second score of the game, giving the visiting team a 12-0 after their two-point conversion attempt failed.
Just when things started looking a little rough for San Juan, junior Jordan Blake took the ensuing kickoff and returned it well into Wildcat territory.
San Juan took advantage of good field position when Payton Palmer hooked up with Max Slavens from nine yards out, capping off a six play 41-yard drive by the Broncos.
Aaron Mitchell added the PAT, cutting the lead to just five points, 12-7.
The San Juan defense rose to the occasion on its next trip onto the field, pushing the Wildcat’s back before allowing their guests to complete a pass for 19 yards, then jumping off-sides on fourth and three, giving South Summit a new set of downs.
Ultimately, the Wildcats would capitalize on their good fortune by scoring their third touchdown of the game on a one-yard run. The PAT attempt sailed through the uprights, pushing the score to 19-7, where it would remain until after halftime.
The Broncos come out of the locker room for the second half and looked like an entirely different team, as they used a smash mouth offensive approach to run right over the Wildcats.
Just as it seemed San Juan would again cut into the South Summit lead, tragedy struck the Broncos as they suffered a lost fumble inside the 10-yard line.
In spite of the bad luck, the Broncos played solid throughout the third quarter, holding the Wildcats scoreless in the period.
The fourth quarter started out as a defensive battle, much like the majority of the third. With just over six minutes left in the game, the Wildcats scored the final touchdown of the game on a seven yard run.
The kicker added the PAT, pushing the Wildcat lead to 19 points and a 26-7 final.
Offensively, Palmer was nine for 15 and for 53 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His top target on the night was Max Slavens who pulled in three catches for 23 yards.
Kavika Su’eSu’e was next on the list with two grabs for 14 yards. Bronz Eldredge had three catches for nine yards, while Blake finished with seven yards on one catch.
On the ground, San Juan combined for 64 yards rushing, most of that coming from Eldredge, who finished with 22 yards on eight tries, Su’eSu’e ran for eight yards on six attempts and Palmer chipped in five carries for nine yards.
Blake carried the ball twice for 17 yards, and Jay McDonald had one carry for 11 yards.
Su’eSu’e and Eldredge paced the Bronco defenders with 14 tackles each; both had one tackle for a loss, and Eldredge added an interception.
Blake finished the night with eight stops and a forced fumble.
Right on his heels were McDonald and P. Palmer with seven tackles, while Baylr Eldredge, Jaxon Lee and Elliot Jones each notched six take downs.
Lucas Giddings recorded five tackles, just one in front of Peter Shumway and Connor Palmer who each contributed four stops.
Next was Adrian Bitsinnie with three tackles followed by Dylan Ivins, Mason Bethea, Coleman Black and Slavens who all had two.
Rounding out the tackling for San Juan was Aaron Mitchell and Carver Black with one tackle each.
San Juan travels to Farmington, NM Friday, August 28 to take on the Piedra Vista Panthers. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hutchinson Stadium on the campus of Farmington High school.

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