“San Juan is No. 1 for a good reason,” said GCHS head coach Dennis Wells. “I just wish we could have responded better by giving them a good game with a chance to win at the end. We need to step our game up.”
A few key injuries plagued the Red Devils during the game. Senior lineman Keegn Richardson went out early in the first period with a knee injury and didn’t return.
“That hurt our offensive running game and our linebackers on defense,” Wells said.
Running back Cameron Taylor got hurt in the third quarter, which limited the Red Devils’ running game in the second half, Wells said.
The Broncos scored their first touchdown on the opening possession of the game, just two and a half minutes after the kickoff. Ammon Mitchell scored on a 12-yard run to put the Broncos up 6-0. Later in the first period, Justin Nielson scored on a 6-yard run to put San Juan ahead 12-0. The Broncos ended up missing four out of their six extra-point kick attempts during the game, including their first three, two of which were blocked by Grand.
Midway through the second quarter, the Red Devils capped off one of their lengthier drives with a 35-yard field goal attempt. But Jacob Francis’ kick went slightly to the side of the left upright, leaving the Red Devils scoreless.
“My leg had been bugging me all week,” Francis said of the missed field goal.
Moments later, San Juan took over the ball on the 22-yard line, and Logan Meyer broke loose for a 78-yard touchdown run that gave San Juan an 18-0 lead with 5:53 left in the second period.
The Broncos still weren’t done scoring, however, as Meyer racked up yet another TD before halftime, this time on a 6-yard pass from Barkley Christensen. Meyer’s point-after kick was good, giving the Broncos a 25-0 halftime lead.
San Juan scored again late in the third quarter when Dylan Blake caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Christensen. The point-after kick failed yet again, making it 31-0 for the Broncos.
Then, in the closing minutes of the game, Jens Grover scored on a 3-yard rushing touchdown, and Christensen nailed the point-after kick to make it 38-0.
Grand took over the ball after the ensuing kickoff, and Francis almost immediately connected with senior receiver Wesley Rodda, who hauled in a pass and ran it 75 yards for a touchdown with just three minutes remaining in the game. Although Francis missed the ensuring extra-point kick, the Red Devils had managed to end San Juan’s bid for a shutout.
Multiple Red Devil players expressed disappointment in the outcome.
“I felt we could’ve done much better overall offensively and defensively. There was a few times where we should’ve scored, but ended up turning the ball over. It should have been a much closer game,” said defensive back Wade Kemmsies, a junior.
Francis said his team seemed to lack the necessary intensity to be competitive against San Juan.
“We just needed to come fired up,” he said.
Coach Wells said the Red Devils did see some defensive success.
“We stopped their return kicking game and their sweep on offense,” he said. “But their basic traps up the middle killed us, as well as their passing game.”
“We moved the ball well at times, but couldn’t sustain any drives,” Wells added.
Francis led the team with 78 yards rushing on 15 carries, while Taylor added 26 yards on seven carries. The Red Devils only managed 115 total rushing yards on 32 total carries.
Francis also completed 8-of-20 pass attempts for 174 yards, including two long passes to Rodda for a total of 134 yards, the second of which was the team’s only touchdown. Koi Cook led the Red Devils in tackles with nine.
San Juan ended up with 499 yards of total offense, with Meyer rushing for 111 of the team’s 278 yards and Christensen completing 17-of-23 passes for another 221 yards and two touchdowns.
This coming Friday, Sept. 14, the Red Devils (now 2-2 overall, 1-1 in 2A South region play) will face the Richfield Wildcats (2-2 overall, 2-0 in region) in a region matchup at Richfield.
“We’re looking forward to Richfield, and are trying to improve ourselves in all aspects of the game,” Wells said.
The Red Devils will take to the road again the following week for a Sept. 21 contest at Parowan. Grand’s next home game will be its homecoming game on Sept. 28 against the South Sevier Rams.