GETTYSBURG, Pa.- Sophomore running back David Vidovic (Hohenfels, Germany/Hohenfels) ran for a career-high 172 yards and three touchdowns as Juniata football held off Gettysburg 41-35 on Saturday afternoon at Shirk Field. It the Eagles' first win on the Bullets' home field since 1979. JC improves to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the Centennial Conference for the first time since 2013. Gettysburg falls to 1-2 and 1-1 in the Centennial.
Vidovic carried the ball 34 times and is the first running back to do so since Craig Moshier had 38 against Albright in 2003. His three rushing touchdowns are the most for a Juniata running back since Zach McCaulley in 2013.
The Eagles received the opening kickoff and quickly marched into GC territory. On third and one from the JC 43, Vidovic took the handoff and ran 13 yards to the GC 44. Hank Coyne (Royersford, Pa./Spring-Ford) then completed a 37-yard pass to Aaron O'Brien (York, Pa./York Catholic) to move to the Bullets' seven. Vidovic was able to get to the one but a false start penalty pushed the Eagles to the six. The drive stalled and Kevin Bonalle (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest) converted a 23-yard field goal to give JC a 3-0 lead with 11:46 on the clock.
Gettysburg answered quickly as it charged into JC territory. On first goal from the nine, Danny Thompson connected with Tyler Frazee for the touchdown and with the extra point, the Bullets led 7-3 at the 9:02 mark.
Juniata began its second drive at its own 22-yard line. Vidovic had runs of nine and three yards and Coyne once again completed a big pass to O'Brien with this one covering 33 yards. The drive ended with Vidovic scoring on first and goal from the four-yard line and with Bonalle's extra point, the Eagles regained the lead, 10-7.
The Bullets would match the Eagles as they scored on a Charles Clewis eight-yard run and went ahead 14-10 with 2:56 remaining in the opening quarter. Juniata started its drive at its own 22. Vidovic ran for 23 yards and Matt Lehr (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) added 11 yards with Coyne completing passes of 13 yards to Kirby Breault (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown Area) and 35 yards to O'Brien to get the GC one-yard line as time expired in the quarter. Vidovic would be stopped for no gain and then lose three yards setting up a third and goal from the Bullets' four. From there, Coyne found AJ Brocato (Abingdon, MD./Patterson Mills) in the endzone for the touchdown and Bonalle's extra point made it 17-14 in Juniata's favor.
For the first time in the game, the defense was able to come up with a big stop. Gettysburg began at its own 25 following a touchback on the kickoff. The Bullets faced a third and 18 but could only move five yards and were forced to punt the ball away. Gettysburg punter Tyler Frazee mishandled the punt and Aldo Legge (Aliquippa, Pa./Central Valley) was there to smother the play and Juniata was awarded excelled field position at the GC 26. The Eagles were able to take advantage as an eight-play drive ended with Vidovic scoring from the one and Bonalle's extra point increased Juniata's lead to 24-14 with 8:30 on the clock.
The JC defense came up huge once again as two plays into the Bullets' drive, Joel Reighard (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) intercepted Justin Davidov's pass and ran 32 yards to the GC 5. An illegal block in the back penalty pushed the ball back to the GC 15. The Eagles got to the GC 7 and could not get any further as Bonalle converted a 25-yard field goal with 6:16 left in the half and JC's lead increased to 27-14.
Gettysburg countered with a Danny Thompson 10-yard touchdown to narrow the Eagle lead to 27-21 at 4:17. Both teams would be stopped on their next drives with Juniata turning back Gettysburg on a fourth and one on the JC 12.
Gettysburg began the second half with possession and scored on its second play from scrimmage on a Matt McFadden 53-yard scamper to take a 28-27 lead. Starting at its own 27, Juniata looked to regain its lead. Two Vidovic runs and a GC personal foul penalty put the Eagles near midfield. Coyne then completed a 28-yard pass to Breault to move JC to the GC 16. Breault then ran for three yards but on the next play, a botched snap pushed Juniata all the back to GC 42. On third and 28, Coyne hit Breault for a 42-yard touchdown and the Eagles had a 34-28 lead with 11:04 showing on the clock in the third quarter.
The Eagle defense would force the Bullets to turn the ball over on downs on the ensuing Gettysburg possession. Juniata began its drive at the GC 47. Aided by a pair of GC penalties, the Eagles had a first down at the GC 21. It was all Vidovic as he ran four times for 21 yards that culminated with a three-yard touchdown. Bonalle's extra point gave Juniata a 41-28 lead with 6:34 to remaining in the third period.
On its next drive, Gettysburg looked like it was going to once again cut into the Eagle lead. The threat ended when on third and nine from the JC 24, Thompson would be picked off by Mitchell Shober (Stevens, Pa./Cocalico) who ran 21 yards to the JC 35.
The Eagles could not take advantage of the turnover and were forced to punt. Gettysburg began its drive with just under two minutes to play in the third quarter. A Thompson 26-yard completion to Justin Walsh added to a McFadden 15 yard and Walsh runs of seven and two yards got the Bullets into Juniata territory to begin the final quarter. GC got to the Juniata 25 but a holding penalty backed it up to the 35 and on third and 12, Davidov would be sacked by the combination of Nick Gray (West Decatur, Pa./Phillipsburg-Osceola) and Anton Morrow (Boiling Springs, Pa./Boiling Springs) forcing the Bullets to punt the ball away.
After Juniata's next drive stalled forcing it to punt, Gettysburg got the ball back and looked to score. The Bullets got down to the JC nine but on fourth and one, Davidov would be sacked by Donovan Cobb (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) and the Eagles took over on downs.
The Eagles were denied on the next possession and were forced to punt again. Gettysburg took over at its own 43 with 4:24 left to play. This time, the Bullets were able to make good as Davidov found Chase Fee in the endzone for 13 yards and the extra point made it 41-35 with 2:23 to go in the contest.
The Bullets attempted an onside kick but failed to execute and Juniata took over at the GC 37. Out of timeouts, the Bullets could not stop the clock. The Eagles ran the clock down with Vidovoc carrying the ball for 13 yards. With a fourth and five on the GC 32 and declining to go for the field goal, Vidovic ran for five yards and the first down to clinch the game for the Eagles.
The two teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards of total offense. Juniata picked up 459 yards with Gettysburg tallying 536 yards. The Eagles outgained the Bullets in net passing yards 252-201 with GC having the advantage in rushing yards 335-177. Juniata led 35:09-24:51 in time of possession. The 41 points scored by the Eagles is the most ever in the series with Gettysburg.
Coyne completed 21-of-29 passes for 282 yards and two touchdowns. He did not throw an interception and was not sacked.
Breault finished with his third straight 100-yard receiving game. He grabbed 10 passes for 126 yards and scored once. O'Brien caught six balls for 122 yards.
On the defensive side, the Eagles had four sacks, six tackles totaling losses of 28 yards, two interceptions, and four pass breakups. Reighard led in total tackles with 10 and had an interception for the third straight game. Shober added eight total tackles, two pass breakups, and one interception.
Juniata will look to stay unbeaten when it hosts Franklin and Marshall next Saturday at Knox Stadium. Kickoff will be at 1:00 p.m.