Broncos end 34-game Beaver win streak, defeat defending champs in defensive battle
All season long, the San Juan High School football team has been taking care of business week in and week out. But at the same time, they’ve had their sights set on Friday, October 8, 2021 for almost a year.
The significance of October 8? The Broncos’ matchup with defending 2A state champion Beaver on Beaver’s field. A chance to bring an end to the Beavers’ 34-game winning streak. Pride. Momentum. And more.
As it turned out, a cold, rainy October 8 was the perfect night and the perfect conditions for these 2A powerhouses to finally meet.
A dry, sunny late afternoon would have been too easy. These two teams needed an additional challenge to prove what they were made of.
In a twist of RPI fate, the game ended up being a meeting between the #1 and #3 teams in 2A. When South Summit beat Judge Memorial the night prior, the Wildcats actually dropped to #2 in the standings and Beaver moved up to #1.
That’s really the way it should have been. As the undefeated defending champs, there’s no reason the Beavers should have ever dropped to #2 in the first place. But that’s RPI math.
So it was the regular season 2A matchup of the year that everyone had been greatly anticipating – and it surely didn’t disappoint.
San Juan received the opening kickoff and promptly drove from their own 11 to the Beaver 11 in just six plays.
The Broncos were primed to open the scoring, but on the very next play the Beavers stripped the ball from running back Jensen Grover for the first of many defensive stops by both teams on the night.
The opponents traded punches for the remainder of the first quarter, and on through the middle of the second before Beaver finally got their famous Wing-T offense moving down the field.
But when junior quarterback Tyten Fails threw to the San Juan 25, defender Collin Baker climbed the ladder to pick off the pass and give the Broncos a key takeaway that would lead to the only scoring drive of the night.
San Juan took just over a minute to drive downfield to the Beaver 25. On second down, quarterback Jace Palmer faked a handoff to running back Landon Black, then hit open tight end Bronson Snyder with a pass.
The big Bronco rumbled into the end zone to give San Juan a 6-0 lead with 2:15 to go in the half. The two-point try failed, and the score remained 6-0 as the defenses continued to dictate the game until midway through the third quarter.
The Beavers made no less than three major defensive stands with their backs to their own goal line throughout the game.
Following one of those stops, with just under four minutes remaining in the third, the Broncos had them pinned at their own one-yard line on fourth down.
The Beavers lined up to punt, but when the snap sailed over punter Statler Wright’s head out the back of the end zone, a safety resulted, giving San Juan two points and an 8-0 lead.
Again the defenses took control, shutting down their opposing offenses. Two minutes into the fourth quarter Beaver punted. Bronco Jerzy Nieves was putting together a strong return, but the Beavers hit him hard, popping the ball into the air.
It was caught by Beaver Kelton Langston, who returned it 33 yards to the San Juan seven before he was finally brought down.
It was a huge stop, and the stop that ensued was even more huge. The Bronco defense somehow found a way to keep the Beaver offense out of the end zone despite Beaver’s four shots at it.
Bronco gang tackling was instrumental in the defensive stand, as was a big open-field tackle by Collin Baker on the outside to stop running back Cobe Carter on what would have been a sure touchdown.
It gave the San Juan defense enough momentum to control the remainder of the game, and although their offense was also held off the board, close out an impressive 8-0 win.
San Juan had accomplished what many before could not. They ended the Beavers’ 34-game win streak – the fourth-longest in state history. They defeated the defending state champions.
They won their eighth straight. And they may have vaulted themselves into first place in 2A football (we won’t know until the final RPI is released on October 16).
Most importantly, San Juan showed what they’re made of. Ladd Ivins, playing through injury in bad weather on a difficult field, was the epitome of the Broncos’ toughness.
Jerzy Nieves also gave everything he had to play through injury. Collin Baker, who was quiet in early games of the season and was pushed by coaches, was a huge part of the win.
And you could say these things about every player on the field October 8. They truly came together as a unit to battle through adversity. Indeed, San Juan has peaked at just the right time, exactly as head coach Barkley Christensen hoped they would.
“This is as big as it gets,” Christensen said, speaking proudly of his team’s gutsy win after the game. “You gotta give so much credit to the kids. They just never give up.
“Such a great effort to come into Beaver and get a win against such a good team,” he continued. “Our offense found a way to score and it was fun to see a defensive win.”
Coach Christensen said the offense will take a look at what it can do better. “We need to find a way to put up some more points if we’re serious about winning a state championship,” he explained.
The team will also have to find a way to keep the momentum they’ve built alive. They face a deeply struggling 0-8 Grand County team to close out the regular season at home this Friday, October 15.
Then they’ll have a bye for the first week of the 2A state tournament. Join us live as the Broncos host the Red Devils on Senior Night Friday starting at 6:30 on Redrock 92.7 FM and pictureitpalmer.com.