GROVE CITY, Pa.- The Juniata football team suffered a 38-23 loss on their road opener at Grove City, on a very warm and humid Saturday afternoon at Robert E. Thorn Field. The Wolverines gained over 60 percent of their yards on the ground as they ran for 274 yards.
The Eagle offense was fairly balanced as Austin Montgomery (Bedford, Pa./Bedfrod Area HS) was 20-33 with 261 yards through the air and two touchdowns, he added 45 yards rushing as well. Jake Wertz (Mont Alto, Pa./Waynesboro Area HS) ran 15 times for 71 yards and a score. Daulton Snyder (New Oxford, Pa./New Oxford) had six catches for 85 yards and one touchdown while Sean Owens (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley HS) had four receptions for 68 yards and a score. AJ Brocato(Abingdon, Md./Patterson Mills HS) added four catches for 55 yards.
Joel Reighard (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area HS) totaled 12 tackles and added a pass breakup while Dan Drop Jr. (Hatfield, Pa./North Penn HS) had six total tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. Jamel Foster (York, Pa./Red Lion Area Senior HS) had six tackles and a sack.
Grove City got on the board first via a pick-six just under a minute into the game to take an early 7-0 lead. After JC could not gain any traction on offense and punted, the Wolverines drove 58 yards in four and a half minutes to push their lead to 14-0.
Juniata responded by manufacturing a 14 play, 75-yard drive that involved three receptions by Brocato and an 18-yard reception by Wertz that moved the Eagles all the way down to the Grove City one-yard line. The Wolverines forced a fumble and recovered it to prevent JC from getting on the board.
Drop Jr. sacked the Wolverine QB to stop their next drive, and the Eagle offense took advantage. Montgomery found Owens for five yards, and Snyder twice for a total of 35 yards and Shaheed Ross (Philadelphia, Pa./Delaware Valley Charter) for six to move the Eagles down to the Grove City 24. On third and five, Montgomery hit Owens for six to make it 14-7 with four and half minutes left in the half.
After the teams traded punts, JC had the ball with 1:05 remaining, but could not get anything started so Brenden Gardnerboomed a punt down to the Grove City 20. The Wolverines muffed the punt and Kaleb Weyant(East Freedom, Pa./Central) recovered the ball at the GC 22. A few plays later, Sam Craig (Mullica Hill, N.J./Kingsway Regional) sent the ball through the uprights from 29 yards to narrow the gap to four at 14-10.
The third quarter opened with a five-minute Wolverine drive resulting in a field goal to push their lead back to seven. The Eagles started their own 42 thanks to a 37-yard kickoff return by Clay Spencer (Hummelstown, Pa./Lower Dauphin HS). The Eagles got the ball down to the GC 1-yard line thanks in part to a 39-yard reception by Brocato. The Eagles attempted a 17-yard field goal but the Wolverines managed to block it. A near six minute drive by Grove City that bled into the fourth quarter ended in a one-yard touchdown run that made it 24-10.
Juniata got the ball at their own 31 and quickly responded as a pass to Wertz for 13 yards, and a nine yard run by Wertz, and a nine-yard snag by Ross moved the ball to the Wolverine 39. Montgomery then throw a strike to Snyder to pull JC within seven.
The Eagles would get no closer as the Wolverines went 65 yards in almost five minutes to make it 31-17, intercepted an Eagle pass and then found pay dirt again to make it 38-17.
With a little under five minutes to go, the Eagles to the ball 75 yards in two minutes, with Owens making two grabs for a total of 39 yards to help get the ball into Wolverine territory. Wertz carried the ball across the goal line to complete the score line at 38-23.
The Eagles open Centennial Conference play at home against #24 Franklin Marshall, Saturday at 1:00.