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Juniata football ends season with 56-38 win over Gallaudet

(Posted November 10, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - The Juniata College football team took out a season\'s worth of frustration on Gallaudet University, amassing 588 yards of total offense on its way to a 56-38 win over the Bison, in a Saturday afternoon shootout in front of 1,200 fans at Knox Stadium in Huntingdon, Pa. Quarterback Jay Leonard (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) accounted for 282 yards through the air on a 20-of-34 performance, his eighth 200-yard passing performance of the season and 15th of his career. The Juniata ground game had its finest performance of the season with 306 net yards, the first 300-yard rushing performance by the Eagles since a 41-16 loss to King\'s College back in 2003. \"I consider today a team effort, a team victory,\" said Juniata head coach Darrell Alt. \"This was the linemen blocking, and the linebackers making plays.\" The Eagles (1-9, 0-8 Centennial) scored on their first possession of game for just the second time this season. After opening the drive on the 50-yardline following a 32-yard kickoff return by Andy Miller (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township), Juniata moved the remaining 50 yards on just six plays. David Nicklaus (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) pulled in a 14-yard reception while Kyle McKechnie (Shillington, Pa./Governor Mifflin) rambled for 23 yard to fuel the drive, which was capped by McKechnie\'s two-yard touchdown run - one of his three rushing TDs on the day. Gallaudet (4-6) responded two plays later with a 58-yard TD passing play from Jason Coleman to Shawn Shannon, after Coleman had been handed the ball by Bison quarterback Fletch Kuehne on a reverse. The Eagles responded with a big play touchdown of their own just five plays and barely a minute-and-a-half later, when Leonard connected with Lance Tippett (Altoona, Pa./Altoona) on a 54-yard scoring strike. Tippett finished the day with three TDs out of his four receptions for 131 yards. That left the score 13-7 in Juniata\'s favor, with just 4:49 used on the first quarter clock. Both Gallaudet and Juniata would each add yet another touchdown on its side of the scoreboard by the end of a first quarter that took approximately 45 minutes to complete. Gallaudet\'s Coleman briefly gave the Bison a 14-13 lead following a three-yard TD carry with 2:23 left in the opening frame. McKechnie responded for the Eagles with eight seconds left in the quarter, scoring on a three-yard run that began a run of 24 unanswered points by Juniata that broke the game wide open. The Eagles widened their lead to 36-14 by halftime, thanks to a 24-yard TD reception by Tippett, a 29-yard field goal by Davis Smith (Lemont, Pa./State College Area), and a 68-yard interception return by Josh Roy (Fredericksburg, Pa./Northern Lebanon). The interception return for a touchdown was the first by an Eagle since Troy Beaver\'s 55-yard pick for a touchdown against Lycoming in 2004. Both Juniata third quarter scores were the result of long plays, with Tippett pulling in a 49-yard TD catch and McKechnie breaking loose for a 38-yard scoring rush. Leonard closed out the Eagle scoring with 7:47 remaining in the fourth quarter with a 15-yard TD run that finished an eight-play, 44-yard drive that consumed 4:13 - Juniata\'s longest scoring drive of the day. Gallaudet actually outscored the Eagles in the second half, but were never able to score without Juniata responding on its next drive, thereby smothering any momentum-building by the Bison. The two teams combined for 977 yards of total offense, in a game that took three hours and forty minutes to complete. \"We prepared for these guys like any other team, and they made it interesting,\" said Alt. \"The difference was those four or five plays in every game that are critical, we got them today.\" Nicklaus finished the day with 66 yards receiving on a team-high seven catches, while Chad Steiner (Frederick, Md./Frederick) had three receptions for 31 yards and Matt Dunker (Glenshaw, Pa./Shaler) had three catches for 21 yards. McKechnie\'s 181 yards rushing on 27 carries were the most by a Juniata back since Kiel Knisely had 154 yards versus FDU-Florham in 2006. Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) had 72 yards on 19 carries, while Leonard had 53 yards on six rushes. Defensively, Roy led the Eagles with 11 total tackles, including five solo stops, with one forced fumble to go with his interception. Zach Swartz (Port Royal, Pa./Juniata) had 10 stops, while Matt Schmidt (Spring Grove, Pa./South Western) had eight total tackles with a team-high six solos. -30-

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