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Offense takes center stage as Juniata falls to Dickinson in 53-41 shootout

(Posted November 8, 2008)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College and Centennial Conference rival Dickinson College let their offenses go wild on Saturday, as the Red Devils won a 53-41 shootout over the Eagles at Knox Stadium in Huntingdon, Pa.

The two teams combined for 1,207 yards of total offense, while the combined 94 points were the most scored this season in a game involving at least one Centennial Conference team.

Juniata (1-9, 1-7 Centennial), whose previous offensive high this season was 339 yards against McDaniel, tallied 530 yards of total offense against Dickinson. 477 yards of that was through the air, off the arm of senior quarterback Jay Leonard (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) who was 38-of-66 passing for four touchdowns with two interceptions. Leonard's 38 completions against the Red Devils sets a new school record, while the 66 passing attempts matches another school mark. Leonard also led the Eagle ground game with six carries for 30 yards.

Chad Steiner (Frederick, Md./Frederick) was Leonard's top target, hauling in 10 passes for 93 yards. Abram Mellinger (Ronks, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) had eight receptions for a team-high 133 yards. Both Steiner and Mellinger had a touchdown reception.

The Dickinson offense was paced by the efforts of quarterback Ian Mitchell, who was 17-of-26 through the air for 253 yards with two touchdown passes, and carried 15 times for 109 yards and and a pair of TDs. Tailback Greg Lord rushed 25 times for 182 yards, and wideout Pat O'Connor snared 10 passes for 253 yards.

Juniata had trailed 41-13 at the half, but responded to outscore Dickinson 28-12 in the second half - only to see the comeback bid fall short.

"We made a decision in the locker room that we didn't ever want this game to end, so we were going to throw it and stretch the clock... we tried to run as many snaps as we could," said Juniata head coach Darrell Alt. "Those seniors played for each other, and they showed the younger guys what it means to play college football and that's a credit to them."

Dickinson (5-4, 4-3 Centennial) got on the scoreboard first, scoring a touchdown at the 9:46 mark of the first quarter. Matt Manganaro capped the six play, 73-yard drive with a four yard TD carry, the first of what would be five five Red Devil rushing touchdowns.

Juniata nearly matched Dickinson's touchdown only minutes later in the first quarter, following a fumble by Red Devil tailback Greg Lord. The popped high in the air after being knocked loose by Brandon Spayd (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon Area), and eventually came down in the hands of Tyler Hall (Alexandria, Pa./Juniata Valley) at the Juniata 40. Hall raced toward the Dickinson endzone, only to have the ball punched out of his hands and through the back of the endzone by Dickinson's Pat O'Connor, just inches before crossing the Red Devil goal line.

The Eagles eventually got on the scoreboard with just 26 seconds showing in the first quarter, when Leonard hit Ronnie Shrift (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) on a short pass that Shrift turned into an 80-yard TD play.

Dickinson responded with four straight touchdowns, widening its lead to 34-6 at the 1:02 mark of the second quarter before the Eagles would respond on the scoreboard. Lord began the Red Devils' second quarter surge with a 49-yard touchdown rush with 14:40 on the clock, while Mitchell expanded the Dickinson lead to 20-6 on his 7-yard scoring run with 8:54 remaining.

A nine-yard Mitchell pass to Joe Sandoe capped a 13-play, 97-yard drive to make the score 27-6 in Dickinson's favor with 3:04 to play in the frame. Mitchell kept the ball on a two-yard touchdown rush with 1:02 remaining, expanding the Red Devils' lead to 34-6.

Both teams managed to put another touchdown on the scoreboard in the final minute of the first half. Juniata's Leonard hit Steiner on a 24-yard TD pass just inside the near right corner of the endzone with 25 seconds left on the clock, cutting the Dickinson lead to 34-13.

The Juniata defense eventually forced Dickinson to punt on the ensuing possession, but the Eagles were called for roughing the kicker as time expired. That returned the ball to Dickinson for an untimed down to end the half, and Mitchell found Rob Kutner in the endzone with a "hail mary" pass that sent the Red Devils into the locker room with a 41-13 lead.

After a Dickinson field goal early in the third quarter, Juniata scored its third touchdown of the game on a 13-yard Leonard pass to Dan Fenton at the 9:55 mark of the frame.

Dickinson capped its scoring with Gordon Craig's 38-yard field goal with 3:28 to play in the third quarter, followed by Tim Wells' one-yard TD rush at the 14:03 mark of the fourth.

A pair of Jay Leonard rushing touchdowns - one for one yard at the 12:02 mark and another on a two-yard carry with 5:52 remaining - cut the lead to 53-34. Leonard then found Mellinger on a 40-yard scoring strike with 1:32 remaining.


NOTES: Juniata's Jay Leonard completed his career with 7,610 yards passing... the single game completions record (38) set Saturday by Leonard eclipsed the previous mark of 35, set by Greg Troutman in 2001 against Waynesburg College... Leonard tied Troutman's mark of 66 pass attempts set in 2001 against FDU-Madison... Juniata's team passing numbers of 38-of-67 set a new team completions record, previously set in 2000 against Widener, and tied the team attempts mark set in the 2001 FDU-Madison contest.

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