HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata football team led early but could not hang on as Franklin & Marshall used a 33 point second half explosion to win, 40-17, on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium.
It was a rough start for the Eagles as their second play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble that the Diplomats recovered at the JC 30. Two plays later F&M was in the end zone as they led 7-0 less than a minute into the contest.
On the ensuing drive, Austin Montgomery (Bedford, Pa./Bedford Area HS) managed to lead the Eagles down the field using completions of 24 yards to Shaheed Ross (Philadelphia, Pa./Delaware Valley Charter HS) and 15 to AJ Brocato (Abingdon, Md./Patterson Mills HS). Jake Wertz (Mont Alto, Pa./Waynesboro Area) added a run of 24 yards during the drive. JC couldn't punch the ball into the end zone, so Sam Craig (Mullica Hill, N.J./Kingsway Regional HS) booted a 22-yard field goal to get the Eagles on the board.
On F&M's first play from scrimmage on the next drive, Joshua Singleton (Philadelphia, Pa./Olney West HS) grabbed his first career pick which gave JC the ball at the Eagle 20.
Juniata could not muster much and punted the ball near midfield which gave the Diplomats decent field position.
After F&M almost gifted the Eagles the ball via fumble, Dan Drop Jr. (Hatfield, Pa./North Penn HS) made his first career interception on the right side of the field and managed to take it into Diplomat territory.
The Eagles could not manage to get rolling on offense, and had to punt again.
Franklin & Marshall was again stymied by the Eagle defense, with a sack by Thayer Phillips (Cuddy, Pa./South Fayette HS) ending the drive. The punt was a short one that took an unfortunate bounce off an Eagle, right into the path of a F&M player who recovered it. JC's defense managed to prevent the Diplomats from going anywhere; as on third and two Christian Rudolph (Centre Hall, Pa./Penn's Valley Area HS) and Zach Krug (Ashville, Pa./Penn Cambria HS) joined forces to stop the running back in the backfield. F&M attempted a field goal, but he missed wide left.
With the ball at their own 20, Juniata quickly moved down the field. After an Eagle penalty, Montgomery found Daulton Snyder (New Oxford, Pa./New Oxford) for a 54-yard catch and run that put the ball on the Diplomat 31.
Two plays later Ross hauled in a 31-yard touchdown, the first of his career, to give JC their first lead of the game.
After the defense forced another stop, the Eagles got back to work. Facing third and 10, Montgomery found Ross for 38 yards to get the ball into Diplomat territory. Montgomery ran for 15 yards and Lane Chalmers (Parker, Pa./Allegheny-Clarion Valley HS) added some tough yards inside to get the ball to the Diplomat 21. Sean Owens (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS) made a 21-yard grab in the end zone to put Juniata up 17-7. Each team threatened in the final minutes of the half, but the teams entered the locker room with Juniata leading 17-7.
The teams traded punts to open the third, but on the second drive the Diplomates went 41-yards on four plays to get within three. Neither team could get going over the next three drives.
The Eagles went back to punt again, but the Diplomats came flying in and blocked the punt which game them excellent field position at the JC 17. On first and 10 F&M ran the ball in to retake the lead at 21-17.
On third and eight, a violent tackle jarred the ball loose and F&M recovered. They scored again to make it 28-17. After an Eagle stalled drive, F&M had a six-minute drive that went into the fourth quarter and ended in six which made it 34-17.
The Diplomats found the end zone once more to complete the scoring at 40-17.
Juniata will host Ursinus, next Saturday at 12:00.