Broncos earn thrilling 38-35 win over Emery

The San Juan Bronco football team came roaring back from a ten-point deficit midway through the third quarter to earn a thrilling 38-35 victory over the Emery Spartans on October 16 in Castle Dale.

With the win, the Broncos claimed second place in Region 12 and secured a home game in the opening round of the 3A State Playoffs. San Juan will host the Manti Templars on Friday, October 23, with kickoff set for 5 p.m.

The game played out in three separate sections, with the Broncos dominating early and claiming a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Broncos scored three touchdowns in the first quarter as they moved the ball impressively down the field. The scores include an eleven-yard run by Jensen Grover, a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jace Palmer to Ladd Ivins, and a 28-yard run by Grover.

The Bronco offense absolutely dominated play in the early going, and the Bronco defense was equally strong. By the time the Broncos had scored 19 points, Emery had earned just a single first down on offense.

The only mistake by the Broncos in the early stanza of the game was a 42-yard pick-six interception of a Palmer pass by Hayes Dalton of Emery. The interception was aided by a blitz by an Emery linebacker.

The Spartan offense turned the tide in the second and third quarters as Emery came roaring back from the two-touchdown deficit and eventually taking a ten-point lead with 4:41 remaining in the third quarter.

Emery began to move the ball and scored on a 27-yard pass to cut the Bronco lead to 19-14.

Palmer scored on a one-yard run with 2:29 remaining in the first half and San Juan had what looked to be a comfortable 25-14 lead.

However, the last minutes of the first half triggered an Emery comeback that gave the Spartans a 28-25 lead going into the locker room at halftime.

The key play was a 61-yard flea-flicker touchdown pass for Emery. After the Broncos were forced to punt away, the Spartan marched 64 yards down the field on two passes and scored again on a one-yard run in the final minute of the half.

The third quarter continued the Emery scoring attack and when the Spartans completed a 31-yard touchdown pass, they were ahead by ten points 35-25.

The Broncos were able to reestablish dominance at this point in the game, scoring the final 13 points and claiming the Region 12 win.

They went on a 66 yard scoring drive which included a 12 -ard gain on fourth and two on a pass to Bronson Snyder.

Palmer scored on a six-yard run, his twelfth rushing touchdown of the year, and the Broncos cut the Spartan lead to three, 35-32.

After stopping the Spartan offense, the Broncos were able to put together an 86-yard drive that gave them the lead early in the fourth quarter.

The play of the game occurred when Palmer was flushed from the pocket and scrambled to avoid several Spartan tacklers. Palmer was back to the three yard line when he found an open space and was able to pass the ball to Cooper Black. Black outjumped the defender to catch the ball and then ran 60 yards downfield to the endzone to give San Juan a 38-35 lead.

The game turned into a defensive battle for the remainder of the contests. Both teams faced several fourth and short situations, but were unable to convert the first down.

Emery put together a sustained drive in the final minutes and got inside the Bronco 35-yard line, but a Jensen Grover interception effectively stopped the drive and secured the San Juan win.

For the game, Palmer completed 17 of 30 passes for 258 yards. His favorite receivers are Ladd Ivins, who had six catches for 104 yards and a touchdown, Cooper Black, who had five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown, and Grover, who had two catches for 25 yards and a touchdown.

Grover had a great game running the ball, racking up 188 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown.

Defensively, Grover led the way with 14 tackles. Collin Baker added 12 tackles, while Ivins and Palmer each had seven tackles, Cooper Black and Mangum Nielson each had six, and Snyder had five.

The Broncos face a tough first round matchup against the Manti Templars in Blanding on Friday. Manti has a 5-5 record for the year.

The Templars finished second in Region 14, with a signature win in overtime thriller over North Sanpete.

Against similar opponents, the Broncos and Templars are almost identical, with wins over Delta and American Leadership, and losses to Grantsville and Richfield.

The winner will advance to a quarterfinal contest against the top-ranked Juab Wasps.

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