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Juniata drops 27-12 decision to the Diplomats

(Posted September 22, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - In a battle of two prolific air attacks, it was the ground game that proved to be the difference in Franklin & Marshall's Centennial Conference matchup with Juniata College. The Diplomats amassed 499 yards of total offense, 236 yards worth of it on the ground, to edge the Eagles 27-12, in front of a Homecoming crowd of approximately 2,500 at Knox Stadium in Huntingdon. The F&M ground game managed also ground up over 36 minutes on the clock, allowing the Juniata offense to take the field for a season-low 23 minutes and 49 seconds. The Eagles racked up 274 yards through the air, but managed jush were held to just 62 yards rushing for 336 yards of total offense. After F&M got on the board in the first quarter with a 21-yard George Eager touchdown reception off the arm of Kyle Turner, the Eagles (0-3, 0-2 Centennial) struck back in the second quarter. Junior Jay Leonard (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) found Lance Tippett (Altoona, Pa./Altoona) in the endzone on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 3:21 remaining before halftime. Davis Smith's (Lemont, Pa./State College Area) extra-point attempt hit the upright, and Juniata trailed 7-6. The Diplomats put another touchdown on the board before the intermission, with a nine play, 54-yard drive that was aided by Eager's 24-yard kick return after the Juniata touchdown, as well as a 15-yard Turner-to-Eager reception that bailed F&M out of a first-and-20 situation after a Diplomat holding penalty. F&M added to their lead on the opening drive of the third quarter, completing a 10-play, 67-yard march with a one-yard TD rush by Turner. Turner hooked up with Eager on another scoring play late in the third quarter, expanding the Franklin & Marshall lead to 27-6. Juniata cut the lead with David Nicklaus' (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) six-yard TD catch from Leonard with 7:02 remaining in the game. Two other Juniata second-half possessions were cut short by turnovers. Nicklaus fumbled at the Juniata 37-yard line after a third-quarter reception from Leonard, on the very first play after Matt Schmidt (Spring Grove, Pa./South Western) picked F&M's Turner at the Juniata 42 to quash a five-play Diplomat drive. Later in the third quarter, a Leonard pass was batted in the air and fell into the arms of F&M's Andrew Rocks. Leonard finished the day 28-of-50 for 274 yards with two TDs and one interception. Tippett went over 100-yards receiving for the second game in a row, hauling in 10 passes for 134 yards on one touchdown. Josh Roy (Fredericksburg, Pa./Northern Lebanon) led the Eagles with 14 tackles, including nine solo stops, with one forced fumble. Schmidt recorded nine tackles to go with his interception, and Brandon Spayd (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon) had nine tackles for the day. Juniata continues its inaugural march through the Centennial Conference slate next Saturday, when it heads to Westminster, Md., to face McDaniel College. -30-

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