Broncos hold off late Beaver rally for 35-27 win, improve to 9-0, take back #1 spot in 2A
by Rhett Sifford
During the San Juan High School football team’s state title run in 2021, two games were more highly-anticipated than the others – their matchups with the Beaver Beavers.
In the first, on Beaver’s home field, the Broncos snapped a 34-game Beaver winning streak. In the second, at Weber State University, they won the state championship.
So it stood to reason this past Friday, October 7 when Beaver visited the San Juan High School football field that there was some revenge in mind.
Though the teams are vastly different than the two that stared each other down last season, and though the Broncos have faced stiff challenges from a couple other teams this year, the matchup was still the most highly-anticipated of the season… to this point.
And it didn’t disappoint. Interestingly, Beaver deferred upon winning the coin toss. San Juan chose to receive and they struck early, scoring on a convincing 70-yard drive that took just 2:49.
The only setbacks on the opening possession were penalties on the goal line, but Bronco quarterback Parker Snyder was still able to find Jerzy Nieves in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown pass.
Beaver drove into San Juan territory on their opening possession, but the Broncos held once they reached the edge of the red zone. On fourth down the Beavers’ excellent kicker, Santiago Amezcua, came on to attempt a 43-yard field goal.
The kick was excellent. It had plenty of distance but sailed wide left, giving the ball back to San Juan on the 20 yard line.
Again the Bronco offense made quick work of the Beaver defense, driving to the 36 yard line. From there Snyder took two shots at his second-leading receiver Anthony Done.
On the first Done made a circus catch at the 15, but it was out of bounds. On the second he got wide open in the middle of the field and Snyder hit him in stride for a 36-yard TD. The Broncos added a two-point conversion and the lead was 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.
But the Beavers hadn’t come to Blanding to just let San Juan run away with it. They battled back in the second quarter, scoring touchdowns on back-to-back possessions to tie the game 14-14.
Both TDs came on nice runs from Beaver quarterback Tyten Fails, a 13-yarder followed by a 17-yarder. Amezcua added the extra points effortlessly.
Midway through the second quarter San Juan answered with another outstanding drive. Set up on the four by an excellent catch by Collin Baker, Snyder ran the ball up the middle into the end zone to give the Broncos a 21-14 lead after a Shawn Black extra point.
On the ensuing Beaver possession, Jerzy Nieves snagged a Fails pass out of the air with one hand and returned the interception 32 yards to the Beaver 22.
It took the Broncos just 39 seconds to reestablish a two-touchdown lead. From the 27 yard line on third down, Snyder scrambled left out of the pocket toward the sideline.
He heaved the ball into the corner of the end zone where Collin Baker made an unreal catch, dragging his left foot in bounds as he secured the ball for a stunning touchdown.
Black added the extra point and the Broncos were up 28-14 with 2:42 left in the half. It looked like the Beavers would cut that lead in half when they put together a solid drive down to the Bronco 20.
But a personal foul pushed them back to the San Juan 40. They battled back to the Bronco 20 again, Fails threw the ball into the corner of the end zone on fourth down, and the Broncos got their second key interception of the first half from Collin Baker.
With that stop, San Juan closed the first half with a two-score advantage. They started the second half right where they left off.
The Beavers got the ball to start the half, but the Broncos forced a punt after just three downs. Starting from their own 19, San Juan took 3:05 to march to the Beaver 11, where Snyder found Nieves on a pass to the two.
Nieves drug a defender across the goal line for his second touchdown catch of the night. When Black added the extra point, it seemed the Broncos were well on their way to victory.
But Beaver rallied, slowly but surely, once again. With 1:30 left in the third quarter running back Ayden Bradshaw ran the ball in for a two-yard touchdown.
Then, a minute and a half into the fourth quarter with San Juan driving in the Beaver red zone, Snyder threw to Jerzy Nieves at the five yard line. But his pass was intercepted and returned all the way to the San Juan 33.
The Beavers took just a minute to turn the Bronco mistake into points when Tyten Fails found an absolutely uncovered Baylor Blackburn for a 20-yard touchdown pass.
The extra point was blocked but all of a sudden the San Juan lead was down to just one touchdown with 9:19 still left in the game. When the Broncos were forced to punt with 6:30 left, many in the confines of the SJHS football field truly began to feel a bit nervous.
But the San Juan defense held strong, not allowing the Beavers to drive the ball past their own 30. Following a 15-yard Beaver penalty due to a repeat sideline infraction, the Beavers were forced to punt the ball to the Broncos.
From that point, with 2:33 left in the game, San Juan was able to do just enough to move the chains and possess the ball for the entirety of the remaining time, closing out a hard-fought 35-27 victory.
As always, Parker Snyder was amazing in the win. Despite the interception he threw for 358 yards and four touchdowns. He was 29 of 43 for 67 percent.
His main target is Collin Baker who caught eight Snyder passes for 133 yards and a TD. Anthony Done had six catches for 86 yards and a TD. And Jerzy Nieves had seven receptions for 59 yards and two touchdowns.
It was a little more challenging in the trenches for running back Zack Conway against the tough Beaver front. He had 20 carries for 111 yards on the night but never found the end zone.
Parker Snyder had six carries for 58 yards and scored the only Bronco rushing touchdown. The San Juan defense was solid, holding the Beavers to just 53 yards passing.
The Beaver running game, which they pride themselves on, did get some production, collecting 355 yards and three touchdowns.
But the stats that don’t make the scoresheet include the hard hits that make your opponent not want to carry the ball in your direction for the rest of the game. And the Bronco defense has been delivering those all season.
With the win, San Juan moves to 9-0 on the season and snuck back into the #1 spot in the 2A RPI standings. It is San Juan’s 21st straight win.
Following the tight victory, San Juan Head Coach Barkley Christensen said he is proud of his players for pulling it out, but the team still has some work to accomplish headed to the state tournament.
They close out the regular season with a road game against local rival Grand County on Thursday, October 13 at 7 p.m. Hear all the action live on Redrock 92 with video on PictureItPalmer.com.