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Juniata football falls to Susquehanna in home opener, 43-13

(Posted September 12, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- The Juniata College defensive unit was well aware that it would have its hands full in Saturday's home opener against Susquehanna, with a Crusader offense that featured a two-time all-conference tailback in Dave Paveletz.

Paveletz proved to be as good as advertised, as he ran for 143 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries to lead the Crusaders to a 43-13 win over the host Eagles at Juniata's Knox Stadium.

Juniata (0-2) allowed 439 yards of offense by Susquehanna, most of it - 241 yards - in the first half when the Eagle defense was on the field for over 18 minutes.

The second half was more of a ball game for the Eagles, who had 133 of their 241 yards of total offense in the final two quarters.

Senior quarterback Alex Snyder (Boalsburg, Pa./State College Area) completed nine of his 18 pass attempts for 145 yards, including three strikes to wideout Lance Curry (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area). Junior tailback Derek Kramer (West Chester, Pa./Downingtown West) led the Juniata ground game with 51 yards on 11 carries, averaging 4.6 yards per carry, with all his rushing yardage coming in the second half.

Senior Brandon Spayd (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntingdon Area) led Juniata with 10 tackles, including five solo stops. Senior linebacker Tyler Hall (Alexandria, Pa./Juniata Valley) tallied nine total tackles with a team high seven unassisted stops. Senior defensive lineman Chris Eccles (Levittown, Pa./Neshaminy) recorded Juniata's only tackle-for-loss of the afternoon, with a three-yard loss on Paveletz on the Crusaders' first drive of the second quarter.

"I think the disappointing thing is that we've preached all along to control what you can control, don't let what the other team does affect you, and we came out today and didn't do that," said Juniata head coach Carmen Felus. "We had some chances to make some plays, some chances to stop them on defense, and we weren't able to do that today. That being said... I take full responsibility for this loss."

"Just like we thought, that running back (Paveletz) is legit - probably the best one in the country at this level - and they've got some big play wideouts. They'e got some skill guys, and if you're able to stop the run, that makes you susceptible to the pass - the play action stuff," said Felus.

Two of those big play wideouts scored Susquehanna's first two touchdowns. The first was J.J. Moran, who scored on a 19-yard strike from Crusader quarterback Rich Palazzi at the 11:05 mark of the first quarter, capping a seven-play, 62-yard drive off the opening kickoff.

After Snyder was called for intentional grounding in the endzone, giving Susquehanna a safety and a 9-0 lead with 10:20 remaining in the opening frame, Palazzi hit another Crusader receiver on a touchdown pass. This time the target was Josh Gordon, who pulled in an 11-yard reception with 5:17 showing in the first quarter.

Susquehanna (2-0) stretched its lead to 22-0 early in the second quarter, thanks to a one-yard TD run by backup running back Greg Tellish, before Juniata got on the scoreboard. Eagle kicker Scott Andrews (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) scored Juniata's first points of the season with a 32-yard field goal with 4:38 remaining in the quarter, cutting the Susquehanna lead to 22-3. Another Palazzi-to-Moran TD pass - a five-yard hookup with 1:03 remaining in the half - sent Juniata into the locker room trailing Susquehanna 29-3.

A pair of Paveletz rushing touchdowns in the third quarter - a one-yard rush and a five-yard scoring carry - extended the Susquehanna lead to 43-3.

Juniata added to its score in the fourth quarter with a Kramer touchdown run with 14:57 remaining in the game, capping an eight play, 43-yard drive that lasted nearly four-and-a-half minutes. Andrews finished the scoring for the game, with a 27-yard field goal at the 8:11 mark of the quarter.

"Derek Kramer - there's a young man that... ran with a vengeance, and he went in and he played like he had practiced all week, which he didn't do last week against Allegheny. It was nice to see Derek respond to the challenge that the coaching staff issued to him, and that was a positive," said Felus.

"I thought there were some positives out of some young guys today," added Felus. "Quadir Christian (Johnstown, Pa./Greater Johnstown) has some juice now, and some younger wideouts like Julian Valdiserri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) and Cory Waltman (Everett, Pa./Everett) that played towards the end of the game - those guys are doing a nice job getting assimilated into the college game."

For Susquehanna, Palazzi finished the day 13-of-22 passing for 193 yards with three touchdown passes. Senior split end Keith Howell led the Crusader receiving corps with five receptions for 98 yards.

Pete Johnsen led the Susquehanna defensive unit with six total tackles, including 3.5 for loss with 2.5 sacks. Jalon Scott and Marc McDonough were next among Crusader tackles leaders with four each.

Juniata remains at home next Saturday, as it opens Centennial Conference play by hosting Ursinus College at 1:00 p.m. at Knox Stadium.

GAME NOTES: Juniata's time of possession for the entire game was 25:58... the Eagles were 5-of-12 on third-down conversations, an improvement over the 3-of-17 third-down conversation rate last week against Allegheny... starting free safety Jordan Baird (Sayre, Pa./Athens Area) did not dress for the game, due to injury... Quadir Christian, who entered today's game ranked second in the Centennial and 74th in Division III in kick returns with a 20.0 average, had two kick returns for 73 yards this afternoon against Susquehanna.

For a video recap of this game, click here.

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