Manti football season ends with playoff loss to San Juan, 41-27
By Matt Haris
BLANDING—First-round games between an eight-seed team and a ninth-seed team can always go a number of ways.
Unfortunately for the Manti football team, last Friday’s playoff matchup went just about any way but theirs.
The Templars stalwart defense was powerless to contain the top 3A offense of San Juan, and Manti fell out of the 3A state playoffs in the first round, 41-27, to end their season with a 5-6 record.
Coach Cole Meacham was not available to comment on the game.
Manti’s defense allowed 497 total yards as San Juan junior quarterback Jace Palmer was unstoppable, accounting for 336 total yards and six touchdowns.
On offense, Manti was led by senior Jax Parry, who threw a couple of interceptions, but performed well otherwise, throwing for two touchdowns. Seniors Tyler Taukei’aho and Austin Cox each scored a touchdown on the ground.
Manti struggled to contain the Broncos from the start as Palmer hit his lengthy senior target, Cooper Black, for a touchdown from 13 yard in the first five minutes. Black’s height was a mismatch all evening for the Manti secondary as the senior finished with three touchdown receptions, part of 120 receiving yards on 7 catches.
Manti evened it up with a 12-yard touchdown run by Cox early in the second quarter, but San Juan responded with two more touchdowns to go up 21-7. Attempting to steal some halftime momentum, Parry connected with senior Tyson Brenchley for a 26-yard score in the final minute, but after a botched kickoff gave San Juan great field position with just 45 seconds remaining, the Broncos scored a demoralizing third touchdown of the quarter just 17 seconds later as Palmer connected with Black again, this time for 43 yards and all the momentum.
Coming out of the gate in the second half, Manti struck first as Taukei’aho broke free for a 46-yard touchdown run in the first two minutes of the third quarter. Although Manti would score again before the game was over, San Juan’s offense rolled on, scoring two more touchdowns before all was said and done.
The matchup between the Broncos and Templars was the first in eight years, going back to the 2012 2A state championship won by Manti.
The Templars graduate several seniors at a number of skill positions, including quarterback.