HUNTINGDON, Pa.-The Juniata football team's fourth quarter comeback came up just short as the Eagles fell to visiting McDaniel, 24-21, Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium.
Juniata got off to a quick start as Tim Graham (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) completed passes of four and 14 yards to AJ Brocato (Abingdon, Md./Patterson Mills HS) and Ian Border (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon Area H.S), respectively. After a short gain by border, Graham hooked up with Shaheed Ross (Philadelphia, Pa./Delaware Valley Charter HS) for a 28-yard completion that put the ball on the McDaniel 20. A big sack following an incompletion made it third and 20, but that did not deter the Eagles. Graham rolled out and hit Brocato with a 30-yard strike on the left side of the end zone to put JC up 7-0.
The teams traded punts before the Green Terror managed to put a drive together. Starting at their own 22, they marched the ball 78 yards on 10 plays, with an eight-yard run into the end zone tying things up at 7-7.
Juniata's next drive opened the second quarter, and look to be gaining some traction before McDaniel intercepted a wayward pass near the end zone and took it 34 yards to their own 36.
The defense again held strong, with Adam Grajewski (Export, Pa./Franklin Regional HS) breaking up a pass one third down to force a punt.
Juniata began to drive, with Jason Jones (Port Matilda, Pa./Bald Eagle Area) entering on a third & 17 from the Eagle 42. Jones connected with Sean Owens (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS) for a 14-yard gain. Juniata appeared set to go for it on 4th and one, but could not draw McDaniel offside and took a delay of game penalty. They sent the punt team onto the field, but it was a fake as Brendan Gardner (Muncy, Pa./Hughesville Area HS) took the ball and ran nine yards for a first down to keep the drive alive. Facing third and 14, Jones found Brocato down the left sideline for 49 yards down to the Green Terror eight.
Four players later after a Terror penalty, Jones found Snyder on the right side of the end zone for six.
McDaniel got the ball with a little over two minutes left in the half starting at their own 15. They didn't gain much traction before an Eagle penalty pushed them all the way to their own 34. It didn't matter as on the next play; Joshua Singleton (Philadelphia, Pa. / Olney HS West) intercepted a deep ball at the JC 23. Juniata ran the ball three times to end the half up, 14-7.
The second half started with a bang for Juniata as Thayer Phillips (Cuddy, Pa./South Fayette HS) sacked the QB on second down to help force a punt. Joel Reighgard (Altoona, Pa. / Altoona Area HS) came flying around and blocked the punt as JC took over at the McDaniel 23. Juniata could not capitalize, however, as they went three and out and missed the field goal.
The teams traded punts, which included an excellent punt from Gardner that went 61 yards and pinned the Terror at the two. McDaniel again went three and out on the ensuing drive, with Juniata in good field position as they started at the McDaniel 36.
A reception by Owens made it third and five, and after an incompletion Juniata decided to go for it with the ball at the 30. The Terror defense broke through for a sack to end the drive. The Green Terror ran with that momentum as they went 62 yards in six players, as they ran it in to tie the score at 14-14.
Two punts from Juniata and one from McDaniel gave the Green Terror the ball with 13:16 to go in the game, and they went 59 yards on nine plays to the Juniata 28. Their kicker booted a 45-yard field goal to put them up three. Juniata fumbled on their first play of the next drive, and McDaniel wasted no time, as three players later they were in the end zone via 27-yard pass to make it 24-14.
Juniata did not back down, as they manufactured a 12 play, 62-yard drive that culminated in Jones rolling to his right and finding Owens for six to cut the deficit to three.
McDaniel got the ball with 4:17 left in the contest and ran the clock out to end the contest.
Juniata will play at Gettysburg, Saturday at 1:00.