HUNTINGDON, Pa.- Looking for its first 4-0 start since 2002, the Juniata football team needed to defeat Franklin and Marshall to remain perfect. The Diplomats, however, had other plans as it defeated the Eagles 45-22 on Saturday afternoon at a packed Knox Stadium. The loss drops JC to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the Centennial while the Diplomats are also 3-1 and 2-1 in the conference.
F&M ran for a total of 289 yards with running back Dave Shellhammer picking up 174 and Taalib Gerald adding 118. The team totaled 14 first downs via the run.
F&M won the coin toss but deferred to begin the game. The Eagles stumbled on their first drive and punted. The Diplomats moved inside Juniata territory but were turned back by the Eagle defense. The two teams exchanged punts on their next possessions with the game scoreless after one quarter of play.
Juniata had the ball on the F&M 33 to begin the second quarter. JC went for it on fourth down but David Vidovic (Hohenfels, Germany/Hohenfels) would be stopped for no game and the Eagles turned the ball over on downs. The Diplomats pounded out 54 yards on four straight runs by Shellhammer including a 38-yard romp. The drive ended with Gerald running it in from three yards out to put F&M up 7-0 with 11:24 on the clock in the second period.
The Eagles were stymied on their ensuing possession and punted yet again. The Diplomats took over on their own 22 and marched down the field and scored on a Shellhammer 59-yard run. With the extra point, Franklin and Marshall went up 14-0.
Juniata started its possession on its own 14. A Hank Coyne (Royersford, Pa./Spring-Ford HS.) to Kirby Breault (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown) completion netted 13 yards and gave the Eagles first down on their own 27. Juniata was looking at third down after a Coyne incompletion but an unsportsmanlike penalty on F&M gave Juniata a first down on its 45. The Eagles began to gather some rhythm and moved into Diplomats territory. A pass interference call on the Diplomats gave JC a first down at the F&M 15. From there, Coyne found Breault in the end zone and Kevin Bonalle's (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest) extra point cut the F&M lead to 14-7 with 3:45 to play in the half.
The Diplomats got a big play as Zachary Bradley connected with Bobby Keyes for 54 yards to the JC 15. The Eagle defense thwarted the F&M threat as Bradley was sacked for a loss of eight yards by Anton Morrow (Boiling Springs, Pa./Boiling Springs) on third and three. A Cody Hubbs 32-yard field goal with 1:19 left put Franklin and Marshall ahead 17-7.
The Eagles looked to add another score before halftime. JC got into F&M territory after Coyne hit Breault for a 21-yard gain to get to the F&M 35. The drive went for naught as Coyne was picked off by Jeff Leone at the F&M 6 as the half ended.
The Diplomats had possession to begin the second half. Juniata was able to force a three and out and a punt. Looking to add a score to narrow their deficit, the Eagles moved into Diplomats territory following an unsportsmanlike penalty on F&M that put the ball on the F&M 43. Vidovic took the handoff on the following play but fumbled and Jeff Leone recovered for the Diplomats at their own 30.
F&M was able to take advantage of the JC turnover and scored on a Gerard four-yard run to increase its lead to 24-7 with 6:44 showing on the game clock in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Breault brought the ball to just past midfield on a 39-yard run giving the Eagles excellent field position. Breault caught a 31-yard pass from Coyne to put JC on the F&M three-yard line. Franklin and Marshall kept the Eagles out of the endzone to force a fourth and goal. Needing a touchdown to get back in the game, Juniata went for it and it paid off as Coyne rolled out to his right and found Dion Lattanzi (Dowingtown, Pa./Dowingtown West) for the score. Bonalle's extra point made it a 24-14 game at 3:34.
Now in the final quarter of play, F&M had possession at the Juniata 34. On third and goal, Shellhammer ran it in from the two and with the extra point, F&M's lead was 31-14.
The Diplomats scored again with 6:07 remaining to make it 38-14. Juniata scored with 2:49 to go on an Andre Pendleton (Penn Valley, Pa./Harriton) one-yard run. Coyne ran it in for the two-point conversion and the score stood at 38-22.
Bonalle attempted an onside kick and the Eagles recovered. Juniata gave it back on the following play as Coyne was sacked and fumbled with 2:36 remaining. F&M added one more touchdown as a bad snap on Juniata sailed over James Dougherty's (York, Pa./York Catholic) head and into the endzone where it was recovered for a touchdown.
Vidovic led in rushing with 84 yards. Breault had his fourth straight 100-yard receiving performance with nine catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. AJ Brocato (Abington, Md./Patterson Mills) grabbed four passes for 42 yards as did Jake Notestine (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) for 31 yards.
Mitchell Shober (Stevens, Pa./Cocalico) led the defense with 14 tackles.
The Eagles travel to Baltimore, Md. next Saturday to play Johns Hopkins. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m.