With a narrow 10-7 lead over visiting San Juan at halftime Friday night, the Grantsville football team found itself in a close game against a quality opponent — a rarity, given the Cowboys’ convincing victories over the past three weeks.
However, it was same old, same old for Grantsville once the second half kicked off. The Cowboys outscored the visiting Broncos 22-0 in the third quarter behind a punishing rushing attack, turning a close game into another blowout as GHS defeated San Juan 39-14 at Cowboy Stadium. Grantsville has won four games in a row by a combined score of 130-30.
The Cowboys (4-1) ran for 138 yards in the third quarter alone, including 88 by junior running back Blake Thomas. GHS opened the second half with a quick strike, as quarterback Caleb Sullivan scampered 50 yards for a score just 1:23 into the third quarter to extend Grantsville’s lead to 17-7.
The Broncos (3-2) went three-and-out on their first possession of the half, and a good punt return by Ethan Rainer set up the Cowboys on the San Juan 46-yard line. From there, Thomas carried the ball nine times in 12 plays, including a 9-yard run on fourth-and-6 from the Broncos’ 10. He scored on the next play, and the Cowboys added a two-point conversion on a run by Sullivan after a San Juan penalty on the point-after attempt to take a 25-7 lead with 3:57 left in the quarter.
Then came the dagger. Facing second-and-10 from his own 37, Broncos quarterback Jace Palmer went deep over the middle, looking for the big play. Instead, he found Grantsville’s Noah Mouritsen, who picked off the pass and ran it back 53 yards to San Juan’s 21-yard line. After a 6-yard pass from Sullivan to Dillen Richardson to open the ensuing drive, Thomas carried the ball five times in a row, capping things off with a 2-yard TD run — his third of the game — for a 32-7 lead with 10 seconds left in the quarter.
Thomas finished the game with 181 rushing yards on 23 carries, while Sullivan had six carries for 92 yards. The Cowboys rushed for 287 yards as a team, including a 4-yard TD run by Rainer in the fourth quarter.
Grantsville never trailed in the game, taking a 7-0 lead on its third play from scrimmage when Thomas broke a tackle in the backfield and sprinted 78 yards for a touchdown after splitting the Broncos’ defense. San Juan pulled even on a 12-yard TD pass from Palmer to Cooper Black on fourth-and-8 with 1:42 left in the first quarter. Grantsville answered the Broncos’ drive with a 12-play, 63-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal by Nate Wright with 8:27 left in the half.
Grantsville’s defense came up with timely plays in the first half, thwarting a pair of San Juan drives into Cowboys territory. A promising San Juan possession ended with an interception by Rainer at the Grantsville 5-yard line midway through the second quarter. Kaden Kelley strip-sacked Palmer just before halftime, and Josh Staley fell on the loose ball at the Grantsville 43. The Cowboys drove to the Broncos’ 23 on the ensuing possession, but Sullivan’s pass into the end zone was intercepted by Jerzy Nieves to keep GHS off the scoreboard.
Sullivan was 12-of-20 through the air for 104 yards. Mouritsen had four catches for 43 yards and Wright added two catches for 33 yards.
Defensively, the Cowboys limited Palmer to a season-worst 45.7% (21-of-46) completion percentage for 265 yards and two touchdowns — both of which went to Black, who caught nine balls for 105 yards. Ladd Ivins had six catches for 111 yards for the Broncos, but San Juan managed just 54 rushing.
Grantsville’s Grant Rounds tied for the team lead with six tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. Thomas also had six tackles, while Gabe Mouritsen, Avian Aiono and Staley all had tackles-for-loss.
The Cowboys will face their toughest test of the preseason Friday night on the road against defending Class 2A state champion Beaver. The Beavers have won 18 games in a row since a 10-0 loss to Grand in the 2018 Class 2A state semifinals, and this year’s team has scored at least 41 points in each of its five wins — while allowing just 26 points all season.