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Juniata drops 14-0 decision at Franklin & Marshall

(Posted September 27, 2008)

LANCASTER, Pa. -- A driving rainstorm and a water-logged field kept both Juniata College and Franklin & Marshall from executing any play perfectly, but the Diplomats did just enough to post a 14-0 win over the Eagles, Saturday afternoon at Sponaugle-Williamson Field in Lancaster, Pa.

Juniata (0-4, 0-2 Centennial) recorded a season-low 120 yards of total offense, as poor footing and slick footballs kept the normally potent Eagle passing game in check. Senior quarterback Jay Leonard (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) was 9-of-29 for 61 yards passing with one interception, and was Juniata's leading rusher with 20 net yards on 10 carries.

Meanwhile, F&M (2-2, 1-1 Centennial) stayed on the ground with freshman tailback John Kaschak, who carried 42 times for a season-high 161 yards. More importantly, the Diplomats chewed up the clock along with yardage and held possession for 38:04, forcing the Juniata defense to frequently return to the field for some long stretches.

F&M's ability to keep the Juniata defense on the field slowly turned the tide of the game against the Eagles, after a pair of early defensive stands that looked like they might give Juniata an early lift in the game.

The Eagle defense held firm in a goal line stand on the Diplomats' first possession, denying any points to F&M following their 13-play, 53-yard drive opening drive. F&M's next possession also ended in frustration, as the Eagles stymied a Diplomat drive on third-and-7, forcing F&M to try a 26-yard field goal รข?" which was wide right.

Juniata finally began to show some offensive momentum in its second possession of the second quarter, when Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) began the possession with an 18-yard run for the Eagles' first first down of the game. The drive was aided by a 10-yard holding penalty on the Diplomats, and reached F&M territory on a five-yard run by Leonard on second down.

A failed third down conversion forced Juniata to punt, and the Eagles would not break into the F&M half of the field again until the fourth quarter.

"Both teams had to play in the weather today, so you really can't use the weather as an excuse," said Juniata head coach Darrell Alt. "Offensively, we didn't execute to help our defense and I've got to put the blame on me for that."

"We wanted to attack them by running the option today, and we just didn't execute it the way I wanted to do it. We turned the ball over a little bit, didn't stay on blocks, and Franklin & Marshall just made more plays than we did today," said Alt.

Despite F&M's ball control, it was a pair of Juniata miscues that led to all 14 Diplomat points.

The Diplomats broke the shutout with freshman quarterback John Harrison's two-yard TD pass to Ryan Murray with 34 seconds remaining in the opening half, after gaining possession on an Eagle fumble at the Juniata 29.

A second Juniata fumble led to F&M's only other score of the day, a three-yard rush by Kaschak with 7:22 remaining in the game, crowning a six-play, 27-yard drive by the Diplomats. F&M gained possession after the ball slipped loose in the transfer from center, and was recovered by the Diplomats' Zach Romash.

Juniata finished the day with three turnovers, but did not record a single takeway from Franklin & Marshall.

Defensively, the Eagles were led by senior Josh Roy (Fredericksburg, Pa./Northern Lebanon) with 12 total tackles, including seven solo stops. Jordan Baird (Sayre, Pa./Athens Area) and Tyler Hall (Alexandria, Pa./Juniata Valley) each had 11 tackles, while Jason Marquis (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette) led the linemen with seven tackles. Bryan Jung (Bethlehem, Pa./Notre Dame) had four tackles on the afternoon, including a pair of tackles-for-loss.

Juniata will return home next Saturday, when it hosts McDaniel College at 1:00 p.m. at Knox Stadium.

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