Broncos match longest winning streak in school history with 67-7 victory over Judge Memorial

by Rhett Sifford
Sports Editor
It has been nearly 12 years since the San Juan High School football team lost to Millard in the 2011 2A Utah State Quarterfinals on the Pleasant Grove High School football field.
That loss snapped a 30-game win streak that began on September 18, 2009 and included back-to-back state championships in 2009 and 2010.
On Friday, September 9 the Broncos returned to that era, winning their state-leading 30th straight game 67-7 over the Judge Memorial Bulldogs in Salt Lake City.
With the win San Juan tied their longest winning streak in school history and moved into a tie for the fifth-longest winning streak in Utah history and the tenth-longest active winning streak in the nation.
It also improved them to 5-0 on the year in their bid for a third-straight state title for the first time in school history and Utah 2A history.
The blowout final score seemed improbable in the first few minutes of the game. San Juan opened with possession but uncharacteristically failed to earn a first down, much less put points on the board as San Juan fans have become accustomed to seeing.
Judge made quick work of the Broncos’ turnover on downs, scoring the first touchdown of the game two minutes later on a five-yard pitch from senior quarterback Thomas Gutierrez to senior running back Lamar Boyce.
Though it was only a 41-yard drive for the Bulldogs, it was impressive and left a stunned San Juan defense shaking their heads. The speedy, two-headed attack from Gutierrez and Boyce created lots of wide open space and an easy score.
The Broncos answered two minutes later to tie the game when Javin Montella climbed the ladder to make an outstanding catch in the end zone for a nine-yard touchdown reception midway through the first quarter.
It was the second circus catch of the drive for Montella, and Jake Ivins made one himself as San Juan marched down the field. But that’s not what turned the game around for the Broncos.
On the ensuing kickoff, Judge Memorial senior Henry Thompson received the ball at his own nine yard line and promptly returned it right up the middle of the field 55 yards to the San Juan 36.
For the second time in as many possessions the Bulldogs had a short field and for the second straight time Gutierrez and Boyce dissected the Bronco defense, charging quickly down to the 13.
Then the tide of the game did turn. The San Juan defense rose up, making four straight short-yardage stops and thwarting a fourth-down attempt from the Bulldogs to regain possession on their own four.
That key stop injected massive life into the team and from that point on, there was no stopping the Bronco offensive juggernaut.
You could physically see the fire in San Juan running back Zack Conway’s eyes as he simply ran over defender after defender, single-handedly willing the Broncos to the 41 yard line.
Then he broke free for a 61-yard, highlight-reel touchdown run right up the middle of the field, breaking three tackles along the way and giving San Juan their first lead of the game 14-7.
They added another touchdown in the first quarter, then four more in the second to stretch their lead to 47-7 at the half.
They continued to blank the demoralized Judge squad while adding three more touchdowns in the second half under a running-clock situation on the way to the 67-7 final.
The San Juan defense was the story in the win – not only the goal line stop to get the ball back, but the way they adjusted to completely shut down what was a very potent attack from Gutierrez and Boyce early on.
Bronco Head Coach Barkley Christensen said after the game he was proud of how his team battled through the early adversity and fought back to get the win.
It was truly a team effort, but if there were any stars in the win, Conway and Montella should be mentioned. Conway contributed four touchdowns and Montella had three in a real character night for both players.
Quarterback Parker Snyder didn’t have a loud night in the passing department, but he got his money’s worth. He threw for 171 yards and four touchdowns, completing 12 of 20 attempts for 60 percent.
Brigham Nielson was the leading receiver with 78 yards on three catches, but Montella’s 42 yards on five catches and three TDs were key in the Broncos’ rally.
Jake Ivins, also made a key catch in San Juan’s effort to establish the lead and ended the night with two receptions, 40 yards, and a TD. Conway caught the other touchdown pass and finished with two catches for 11 yards.
Conway also led the rushing attack for the Broncos not surprisingly, with 209 yards on 15 carries and three touchdowns. Snyder had 94 yards on six carries and a touchdown.
Jagger Nieves came in to relieve Snyder in the second half and promptly ran the ball 41 yards to the house on his only carry. And Trace Bennett registered his first-ever rushing touchdown, a six-yarder on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Jake Ivins, Jagger Nieves, and Jordan Duke led the defensive effort with ten, eight, and seven tackles respectively. Three of Ivins’s stops were for loss and two of Nieves’s were also.
The San Juan defense forced an impressive five turnovers in the win. Brigham Nielson registered two interceptions and JD Palmer got one. Knight and Conway recovered one fumble apiece.
It goes without saying the Broncos will be gunning to set a new school winning streak record this Friday, September 16 when the Emery Spartans pay a visit to the San Juan High School football field.
It’s homecoming, so the players will have an added distraction. They’ll need to be at the top of their game. Emery was the team that took the Broncos to the wire in the 2022 state semifinals and nearly upset them.
The kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night, and if any of you are stuck at home or on the road while the rest of Blanding is at the game, join us on Redrock 92 and for the live broadcast starting at 6:30 p.m.

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