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Late Score Not Enough For Football

(Posted October 15, 2005)

Jay Leonard threw for a career-best 217 yards and a pair of touchdowns as Juniata took on Kings.

King?s 25, Juniata 20

Huntingdon, Pa. ? The Juniata College football team got a season-best passing day from Jay Leonard (Big Spring/Newville) but were unable to stop the King?s College rushing attack, particularly in the second half as Juniata fell to the visiting Monarchs 25-20 in Middle Atlantic Conference play at Knox Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Though it was the narrowest loss of the season for the Blue and Gold, Juniata fell to 0-7 on the year and 0-6 in the Middle Atlantic Conference. King?s evened its record at .500 with the win improving to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in conference play.

Working against a defense determined to stop Juniata?s rushing attack, the Leonard enjoyed a solid day leading Juniata?s passing attack as he was 22-of-44 for 217 yards a pair of scores.

But his effort couldn?t solve a balanced King?s offense that piled up 454 yards of offense including 235 yards on the ground. John Ortiz finished with 158 yards rushing while Chris Barnic threw for 219 and three touchdowns for the Monarchs.

Trailing 13-7 at halftime, Juniata took the ball on the opening kick-off of the second half and moved 51 yards in five plays to move in front with a touchdown. Leonard found David Nicklaus (Lampeter Strasburg/Lancaster) in the corner of the end zone after a King?s defender deflected the pass for his first touchdown catch of the season. The point after from Dan Heinlein (Bishop Carroll/Ebensburg) gave Juniata a 14-13 lead. It marked the first time this season that the Eagles scored a touchdown to put them ahead in the second half.

But King?s would respond as the Monarchs had a touchdown and field goal on the next two drives to pull back into a comfortable lead. The first drive came on the rushing of Ortiz as he pounded the ball five times on the drive, and then saw Barnic hit Blake Letchford with a nine-yard scoring strike to give the lead back to the visitors. The point made it 19-14 King?s with 7:55 left in the quarter.

After forcing a Juniata three-and-out on the next possession, King?s took the ball and went 55 yards on 10 plays to set-up a 27-yard field goal from Tim Lust that put the Monarchs in front 22-14.

That would remain the score until King?s first possession of the fourth quarter. This time the Monarch rode the running of Jeff Field down the field inside the Juniata 10-yard line. But from there, Juniata?s defense stiffened with stops from Ryan Calabrese (C. Milton Wright/Bel Air, Md.) and Peter Thomas (Mechanicsburg/Mechanicsburg) forcing a field goal and keeping Juniata within striking distance. The 23-yard kick from Lust put King?s in front 25-14 with 7:22 remaining.

The Eagles could not get the offense going on the ensuing possession, but forced a turnover on downs with King?s trying to run out the clock on the Monarchs? turn with the ball which gave Juniata possession with less than a minute remaining. The Eagles then worked the hurry-up offense quickly moving into King?s territory after a pair of completions to John Boyer (Indian Valley/Belleville). Then with just two seconds remaining on the clock Leonard found Tom Kimmel (South Range/Canfield, Ohio) in the end zone after another King?s deflection to cut into the lead again. The extra point from Heinlein made the lead 25-20 King?s but Juniata?s attempt at an onside kick failed and the Monarchs held on for the win.

Juniata got off to the better start in the first half as after forcing a King?s three-and-out, Juniata moved into King?s territory. A 17-yard pass from Leonard to Lance Tippett (Altoona/Altoona) did the most damage, but Juniata was unable to put points on the board as Heinlein?s 25-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Tore Alaimo.

The first turnover of the game led directly to the first points for the visitors. Brendon Ireton picked off a Leonard pass and returned it 40 yards to the Juniata 30-yard line. Four plays later, Barnic found Letchford in the end zone with a six-yard scoring pass, which with the extra point made the score 7-0 King?s.

Juniata?s special teams made the next big play of the game as Jesse Leonard (Shade/Johnstown) blocked a punt deep in King?s end of the field, giving Juniata the ball at the Monarch 10. Zach Miller (Norwin/North Huntingdon) then scored his first career touchdown on the first play from scrimmage as he went 10 yards for the score.


King?s quickly responded with a nine-play, 65-yard drive on the ensuing possession. Ortiz rambled 36 yards for the biggest play of the drive, moving the ball to the Juniata 27. A 10-yard Ortiz run then moved the ball inside the Juniata 10. Two players later Barnic hooked up with Joe Tassoni for a six-yard completion that gave the Monarchs a 13-7 edge. King?s would miss the point and neither team would score the rest of the half, setting up Juniata?s rally early in the third quarter.

Leonard established new career highs for passing yards and completions in the game. His previous highs were 13 completions for 170 yards in Juniata?s game against Albright. Nicklaus also established new career highs with five grabs for 64 yards. Boyer and Kiel Knisely (Claysburg-Kimmel/Queen) each had four receptions for Juniata.
Miller carried the ball 12 times for 38 yards and scored his first career touchdown.

Defensively Matt Schmidt and Calabrese both finished with 12 tackles, while Schmidt had one pass break-up. Thomas finished with 11 tackles, including two for a loss.

For King?s Ortiz gained 158 yards on 32 carries, while Field added 81 yards on 16 runs. Letchford caught seven passes for 92 yards and a pair of scores.

Alaimo led the Monarchs with eight tackles, including one for a loss. Craig Haywood, Antonio Robinson and George Montras all had six tackles with Robinson recording a pair of tackles for a loss.

Juniata will be off with a bye week next week, while King?s will take on Widener in Wilkes-Barre.

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Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.