GRANTSVILLE — It's not often the opening two drives determine the outcome of a game, but it did for San Juan Friday night.
The defending 2A champs showed no signs of fatigue following a seven-hour bus ride as it methodically marched down field for touchdowns on its first two possessions of the game. That was all the Broncos defense needed in a hard-fought 18-7 win over Grantsville.
"Very proud of them. You have to weather the emotions and get them to play within themselves, and they did," San Juan coach Monty Lee said.
The Broncos improved to 4-0 with the victory and can now turn their attention to next week's showdown with South Summit. They deserve credit for not looking past the Cowboys as they scored on three of their first four possessions to open up an 18-0 halftime lead.
Grantsville's only touchdown of the game was a 96-yard kickoff return by Lincoln Kelley to open up the second half. It was a rare bright spot for the Cowboys. They couldn't sustain any offensive rhythm finishing with just 142 yards of total offensive against the stingy San Juan defense.
"Our kids just went after the ball, played their positions, did their job and didn't get too carried away with the moment and did the basic fundamental things they're taught to do," said Lee.
After an awful first half defensively, Grantsville stepped up its defensive intensity in the second half to keep the game close.
"We could never get anything going, and every time we did we'd do something stupid and get a penalty," said Lee about his team's second-half offensive woes.
Trailing 18-7 in the fourth quarter, Grantsville had two chances to make it a one-possession game after driving inside San Juan's 35-yard line. Those two possessions ended in a turnover on downs and a missed field goal.
Early on Grantsville's defense was helpless to stop the Broncos as they routinely broke two, three and four tackles for big gains.
In a 13-play scoring drive to open the game, San Juan converted three third downs on a drive that Cameron Shumway capped with a 2-yard run to open up a 6-0 lead.
Following a quick three and out by Grantsville, San Juan marched 50 yards on eight plays with Stetler Shumway increasing the lead to 12-0 with a 4-yard score.
With 1:04 remaining in the half, Ryan Lyman walked into the end zone untouched from 2 yards.
"It's good to play a good team, and Grantsville's a good team. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them, I'm glad they chose to play us," said Lee, whose team finished with 233 yards of total offense.