HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata College football team fell, 56-40, to Muhlenberg College in a game that saw the teams to combine for 96 points and over 800 yards of offense.
The Eagles opened the game with a nicely designed play that allowed Austin Montgomery (Bedford, Pa./Bedford Area) to hit Justin Helsel (Martinsburg, Pa./Central) in open space for a 40-yard catch and run that got Juniata down to the Muhlenberg nine. Two players later, Montgomery hit AJ Brocato (Abingdon, Md./Patterson Mills) in the end zone to give the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
The teams gave the ball back and forth quickly, with the Mules driving down to the Juniata 33 before failing to convert on fourth down. Muhlenberg got the ball back two plays later, via a strip sack. They didn't waste possession this time, driving down and scoring on a five-yard pass to tie it up at 7-7.
The next Eagle drive started with an illegal block as Juniata went three and out. Muhlenberg went 44 yards in four plays to take their first lead at 14-7. Turnovers marred the next several Juniata possessions and Muhlenberg scored touchdowns on both turnovers and went into the half with a 28-7 lead.
Muhlenberg got the ball to open the second half, and hit on a 44-yard pass that got them to the Eagle 12. They scored on the next play to take a 35-7 lead in the opening minute of the third.
Neither team scored over the next two drives, with Anton Morrow (Boiling Springs, Pa./Boiling Springs) knifing into the back field and stuffing the Muhlenberg running back on fourth down for a one-yard loss. Starting at the Muhlenberg 42, Calvin Bembry II (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) ran for four hard-fought yards and a Muhlenberg penalty helped Juniata get down to the 28. Montgomery hit Brocato for his second touchdown to make it 35-14.
Starting at their own 33, the Mules got down to the Juniata 09 on the ground. Facing a fourth and seven, they elected to kick a 25-yard field. John Maclay (Belleville, Pa./Mifflin County) came flying around right side, dove, blocking the ball with both hands as it went flying the opposite direction. Cameron Wood (Bellwood, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) scooped it up and took it 68 yards for a touchdown as Juniata got within 15 at 35-20 with 4:18 left in the third.
Neither team could sustain a drive as over the next several series, and with 11:20 left in the fourth, facing fourth and 15 from their own five, Juniata went back to punt. A bobbled snap was eventually recovered by Muhlenberg in the end zone and pushed their lead to 42-20.
Juniata got the ball at their own 26 with 11:09 left in the contest, Juniata got down the field in a minute and 30 seconds. They got a chunk of yards when Montgomery hit Daulton Snyder (New Oxford, Pa./New Oxford) in stride down field for 47 yards. Two players later, Montgomery escaped the pocket and took off for the end zone, looked like he had nowhere to go before he eluded two defenders and strolled into the end zone to make it 42-27.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Mules used a reverse to free their return man, and wound up returning the ball all the way to the Juniata 41. Five rushing attempts later and they were in the end zone, to take a commanding 49-27 lead with 9:26 left.
On the kickoff, Helsel received good blocking as he got sprung down the left sideline for a 73-yard return to give Juniata great field position. On second down, Montgomery hit Vinit Patel (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) in the right corner of the end zone to make it 49-34. The Eagles attempted an onside kick, but the Mules recovered it. Three runs including a 23-yard tote got the Mules down to the Juniata nine before the Muhlenberg QB threw a strike into the end zone to make it 56-34.
Montgomery found Daulton Snyder (New Oxford, Pa./New Oxford) in the right side of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown to make it 56-40. On the next Muhlenberg possession, on third and three, the ball jarred loose from the Mules running back and Nick Savant fell on it.
Juniata got the ball at the Muhlenberg 49 with 2:29 left, but couldn't get out of their own way. A sack and an unsportsmanlike penalty back them up to their own 36. Two incompletes later, and it's fourth and 25. Montgomery dropped back, stepped forward and found Snyder down the Juniata sideline for 30 yards and a first down. Juniata's drive stalled out at the Muhlenberg 42, and the Mules killed the rest of the clock to end the game.
Juniata moves to 1-3 on the season. The Eagles will return to action next Saturday, Sept. 30 at McDaniel.