HUNTINGDON, PA.- On a hot and humid Saturday afternoon, Juniata hosted Dickinson in the Centennial Conference opener for both teams. The Eagles were just as hot as the weather as they defeated the Red Devils 41-21 to move to 2-0 on the year while Dickinson falls to 0-2.
If the first few series were any indication of what was to follow, it was that the game would be a low scoring affair but it was anything but that. With just under a minute remaining in the first quarter, the Eagles scored first. Dickinson quarterback Billy Burger was brought down by Jake Diviney (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) and fumbled. Ryan Bologa (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone) was there to scoop up the loose ball and rumbled 22 yards to the endzone to give JC a 7-0 lead.
The Eagles lead proved to short-lived. Following the kickoff on DC's first play from scrimmage, Burger hit Jake Walbet who ran 58 yards to paydirt and suddenly the game was tied 7-7 with 35 ticks on the clock.
Juniata would answer right back. On the first play of the second quarter, Hank Coyne (Royersford, Pa./Spring-Ford) connected with Kirby Breault (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown) for a 78-yard touchdown and suddenly the Eagles were on top 14-7.
After the Eagles defense forced a three and out, Breault brought the ensuing punt back 43 yards to the DC 26. Coyne passed to Breault for 25 yards and on the following play, David Vidovic (Hohenfels, Germany/Hohenfels) took it in from the one-yard line and in. Kevin Bonalle's (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest) extra point made 21-7. Coyne and Breault hooked up again with just under three minutes remaining in the half on a 36-yard touchdown to increase the Eagle lead to 28-7.
Dickinson received possession in the second half. The drive ended when Joel Reighard (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) intercepted Burger's pass to give Juniata excellent field position. Three plays later, Coyne hit Aaron O'Brien (York, Pa./York Catholic) on a slant and he did the rest as he went 70 yards for the score and with Bonalle's extra point, it was 35-7 Juniata. The Red Devils finally scored their second touchdowns of the day as Burger called his own number and went 45 yards to make it 35-14 where the score stood going into the final quarter of play.
With the game's outcome never in doubt, the fourth quarter was merely a formality. Vidovic scored his second one-yard touchdown of the game to increase the JC lead to 42-14. Allen Walters ended the day's scoring as he rushed for a seven-yard touchdown with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
While the Eagles were outgained in both passing and rushing yards, they made a mark on special teams. Juniata had six total returns (punt and kick) for a total of 152 yards. Breault had all three punt returns for 68 yards.
Coyne passed for 280 yards and three touchdowns. He threw one interception and was never sacked.
Breault bested his performance from a week ago with five catches for 171 yards and two touchdown catches. O'Brien hauled in four passes for 85 yards and a score.
On the ground, Vidovic led the way with 61 yards and his two touchdowns. Calvin Bembry (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) added 20 yards.
The defense had 11 tackles for losses, six pass breakups, three sacks, three interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Bologa accumulated nine total tackles and had one fumble return. Diviney added eight total tackles, one sack, and a forced fumble. Mitchell Shober (Stevens, Pa./Cocalico) and John Michael Maclay (Reedsville, Pa./Mifflin County) both had six stops with Shober tacking on a fumble recovery and an interception.
The win is the third in four games for Juniata over Dickinson. It is also the most points that an Eagles squad as scored over the Red Devils since 1956.
"This was a good team win," said head coach Tim Launtz afterwards. "It's a conference game and Dickinson is a much better football team. We knew that coming in and I think our guys showed that they rose to the occasion. We made a substantial improvement from last week, but, then again, we have to have that substantial improvement each week as we go through the season. We challenged the team to improve from last week and they did and now, going forward, we have to improve more for next week"
Juniata heads to Gettysburg next Saturday to take on the Bullets. Game time will be at 1:00 p.m.