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Football Wins Final Game In MAC

(Posted November 11, 2006)

Jay Leonard threw a career-high four touchdown passes to help Juniata earn a 39-31 victory in its season finale.

Juniata 39, FDU-Florham 31 HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The Juniata College football team made its finale game as a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference one a successful one as the Eagles scored the first 27 points of the game and then held off a FDU-Florham comeback to post a 39-31 victory in MAC action at Knox Stadium Saturday afternoon. With the victory Juniata closed the season with a record of 2-8 overall and 2-7 in the conference, while FDU-Florham ended its campaign also 2-8 and 2-7 in conference play. Juniata sophomore quarterback Jay Leonard (Big Spring/Newville) threw for 293 yards and a career-best four touchdowns in the game, while senior running back Kiel G. Knisely (Claysburg-Kimmel/Queen) rushed for a career-high 154 yards as Juniata amassed 414 yards of total offense. The final of Leonard\'s scoring passes was the biggest as after Juniata jumped out to a big early lead, the visiting Devils cut the deficit to 10 points with 6:36 remaining in the game. Facing a third-and-seven at its own 27-yard line Leonard found Lance Tippett (Altoona/Altoona) alone down the left sideline for a 72-yard scoring pass that pushed Juniata\'s lead to 39-23 after a missed point after. FDU-Florham answered back as Devils quarterback Dan Huff engineered a eight-play 60 yard drive that ended with Huff\'s third scoring pass of the game as he hit Dan Copp for 16 yards to make the score 39-29. Huff then found Jeremy Carr for the two-point conversion to pull the visitors within eight points. After three runs on its ensuing possession Juniata punted the ball away to FDU-Florham, but a five-yard penalty on the visitors for running into the punter gave Juniata a first down, and allowed the Eagles to run out the clock. FDU-Florham\'s offense finished with 370 total yards, and the Devils scored 24 points in the second half. Dan Harrison gained 146 yards on the ground for FDU and Huff threw for 114 yards and three touchdowns on the day. The visitors were forced to come from behind after Juniata\'s offense came out hot to start the game. The offense started out hot as the Eagles marched 80 yards in seven plays to put the first points on the board. Leonard connected with Chad Steiner (Frederick/Frederick, Md.) for an 18-yard scoring strike to give Juniata a 6-0 edge. The point after was missed, keeping the lead at 6-0. The Eagles capitalized on a FDU-Florham turnover as Cory Poff (Red Lion/Red Lion) picked off Devils Huff to give Juniata the ball at the opponents 38 yard line. Juniata took advantage quickly as Leonard tossed his second scoring pass, hitting Matthew Dunker (Shaler/Glenshaw) for 15 yards and a score. The point after was good, moving Juniata\'s lead to 13-0 with 4:27 left in the first quarter. The Eagles found the end zone on their third time with the ball as well after the team\'s defense forced a turnover on downs for FDU-Florham. Juniata moved 74 yards in five plays, with a 45-yard rush from Knisely setting up a seven-yard touchdown run for Brandon Spayd (Huntingdon/Huntingdon) that made the score 19-0. Another successful point put Juniata on top 20-0 with 6:11 left in the half. Juniata added one more score later in the half as Leonard found Dunker in the end zone for the second time to cap a 27-yard drive. Another point from Erik Lohrmann (The Peddie School/Clarksburg, N.J.) gave the Eagles a 27-0 lead with 3:25 remaining in the half. FDU-Florham\'s offense found its rhythm on its final drive of the first half, moving 58 yards on 10 plays to get a touchdown just before halftime. Huff took the ball in from one-yard out to cap the drive, and the point after cut Juniata\'s lead to 27-7 heading into halftime. Juniata\'s offense added to the lead on the opening drive of the second half of the second half as a Lohrmann 32-yard field goal capped a 50-yard, eight-play drive to give the Eagles a 30-7 lead. The Devils\' offense continued to move the ball on its first possession of the half as a long run from Harrison set up Huff\'s 19-yard touchdown pass to Copp with 9:15 remaining in the third quarter. The successful point made it 30-14 in favor of Juniata. FDU-Florham chipped away at the lead two possessions later when a high snap on a punt attempt by the Eagles gave the ball to the visitors on the Juniata 12-yard line. The Eagles kept FDU-Florham out of the end zone, but Mike Barnard connected on a 22-yard field goal to make the scored 30-17 in favor of the Eagles. The teams then began trading scores for the remainder of the game with the Eagles answering back with a field goal of their own on the ensuing drive. A completion to Tippett and a roughing-the-passer penalty moved Juniata into FDU-Florham territory, and then Lohrmann nailed his second career field goal from 35 yards to extend the lead to 33-17 with 10:15 left in the game. FDU-Florham\'s next drive covered 65 yards in 11 plays, and ended with the 23-yard TD pass from Huff to Mike Smeja that made the score 33-23. The visitors missed the two-point conversion attempt leaving the score at 33-23 and setting up the dramatic final six minutes. Leonard was 16-23 passing on the game and his 293 yards passing marked a season high. Tippett was his top target on the day as the junior wideout had a career-high 154-yards receiving and six grabs with one touchdown. Dunker caught four passes for 95 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Senior Jason Koch (Kutztown/Kutztown) caught three passes for 16 yards and Steiner had 35 yards and a score. Defensively for the Eagles Spayd led the team with 11 tackles as he played on offense and defense in the game. T.J. Hardesty (Penns Manor/Clymer) finished with nine tackles, two for a loss including a sack, and also blocked a field goal. Tyler Hall (Juniata Valley/Alexandria) had eight tackles with two pass breakups while Josh Roy (Northern Lebanon/Fredericksburg) and Andrew Knittle (Hamburg/Hamburg) both also produced eight tackles. Huff finished 11-24 throwing for 114 yards and also gained 82 yards on the ground with a rushing touchdown. Harrison gained 146 yards on 29 carries in the game. Smeja was the top receiver for the Devils as he caught three passes for 48 yards and a score. Ray Kwiatkowski also caught three passes and Copp had two grabs, both touchdowns, for 35 yards. Kevin Hatcher-Puryear led the Devils\' defense with eight tackles, one of them for a loss. Justin Williams made seven tackles including half a stop for a loss. Joey DeSalle and Ryan Lenihan both had six tackles. Rob Felicetta added five stops, two of them for a loss including a sack. The contest marked Juniata\'s final game as a member of the Middle Atlantic Conference as the Eagles will begin competing as a member of the Centennial Conference in football in the fall of 2007. These two teams will meet in the 2007 opener as a non-conference game. ###

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