Piedra Vista dominates San Juan 37-20 in season opener

Karl Schneider The Daily Times
The Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The Piedra Vista football team wanted redemption after San Juan, Utah, beat up on the Panthers 35-8 a year ago.

And the home team got it Friday night, dominating the Broncos 37-20 at Hutchison Stadium.

"It's a long summer and long two-a-days. We were sick of hitting each other, as I'm sure everyone is," PV head coach Jared Howell said. "It was good to get under the lights and play at our house and play a great team."

The Panthers were aggressive in both their play and play calling.

On the opening kick, PV tried for the onside, but couldn't recover. Then, after stopping the Broncos, out of Blanding, Utah, the Panthers converted a cross-field lateral and deep pass for a 68-yard touchdown on their first offensive play.

"They're a great program," Howell said of San Juan. "They're a perennial double-digit win team, and you don't walk into a game against them like a lamb. If you're going to play them, you have to go in hard."

PV's first score came when starting quarterback Elijah Gamboa lateraled across the field to wide receiver Casey Simmons on the left side, who then hit Brandon Montoya in stride down the right sideline for the score.

After forcing the Broncos to punt after just three plays on their next possession, PV struck again with a one-play drive when Matt Gonzales broke a 48-yard run up the right side for the score to make it 13-0 with 6:49 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers also got touchdowns from Alex Shay, on a 1-yard run, and Jacob Brown, who pulled in a 25-yard touchdown from Gamboa, as well as a 43-yard field goal from Christian Chavez.

San Juan got on the board in the second quarter with quarterback Payton Palmer finding Kivaka Su'esu'e in the end zone for the 12-yard score.

The Panther defense dominated San Juan in the first half, holding the Broncos to 99 yards to take a 30-6 lead.

"I thought they really played well," Howell said of the defense. "They (San Juan) have some weapons that really concerned us, and you never know exactly how you're going to match up. I was really pleased with what we did, and we had some bright spots."

The Panthers took a blow during the kick return to start the third quarter when Montoya went down with a knee injury and had to be carried off the field.

"He's very shifty. He cuts a lot and is very elusive. He was doing what he does, and I think he just got twisted a little it and got rolled up," Howell said of the play. "That's a big loss. Brandon is a cherished member of our football team. He had a great summer and worked his butt off. I just hope he can get back soon."

The Panthers extended their lead in the third with Gamboa hitting Jordan Duncan up the seam for a 35-yard touchdown, extending the PV lead to 37-6 with 4:22 left in the quarter.

It was Gamboa's second touchdown toss of the game, after the junior was moved from his running back position to fill the void left when regular signal caller Ryan Montoya was forced to sit out with an injury.

"I was thrown in there because Ryan was hurt ,and we didn't really have anyone," Gamboa said. "I was selected captain yesterday, and I needed to step up and be a leader. I went in with the mentality that I needed to lead this team to victory, and I just did what I could."

The Broncos scored twice in the fourth quarter, first with 6:43 remaining, then again when the game was all but decided and only 1:10 was left on the clock.

PV will be back under the lights at Hutchison Stadium Friday when the Panthers host Goddard (0-1).

"Next week is going to be a tough game against Goddard," Gamboa said. "We just need to come in with the mentality that we can keep beating these teams, work hard this week in practice and we'll be able to do it."

Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 and Follow him @karltschneider on Twitter.