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Juniata football falls to Franklin & Marshall, 34-7

(Posted September 26, 2009)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- A Juniata College touchdown in the final seconds capped a late-in-the-game drive, but wasn't enough to overcome Franklin & Marshall's 34-point halftime lead as the Eagles fell to the Diplomats, 34-7, Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium.

Junior reserve quarterback Mike DeTemple (New Cumberland, Pa./Camp Hill) connected with wideout Abram Mellinger (Ronks, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) on a 15-yard scoring strike with 2.8 seconds remaining on the game clock. The touchdown completed a seven-play, 43-yard drive that was fueled by a DeTemple scramble for 22 yards on a third-and-10 play, moving the Eagles all the way to the Diplomat 21-yard line.

After trailing the Diplomats 34-0 at the intermission, the Eagle scoring drive also capped a second half that saw Juniata hold F&M scoreless for 30 minutes.

DeTemple finished the day 6-of-23 for 62 yards, and was sacked once with no interceptions. Starter Alex Snyder (Boalsburg, Pa./State College Area) was 6-of-8 passing for 59 yards, and was sacked four times.

The TD pass was one of three receptions on the day for Mellinger, who finished with 41 yards receiving. Freshman Quadir Christian (Johnstown, Pa./Greater Johnstown) hauled in a pair of passes for 24 yards, while fellow newcomer Cory Waltman (Everett, Pa./Everett) also had a pair of catches for 19 yards.

Junior tailback Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) led the ground game with 43 yards on 12 carries.

Juniata (0-4, 0-2 Centennial) finished the day with 164 yards of total offense - second-most by the Eagles this season - with 121 yards of it through the air.

"I know that people might think I'm the man on the moon or one of the craziest people ever, but today we took a step," said Juniata head coach Carmen Felus. "Why I say that is that's not easy what our kids did down 34-0 at halftime - that's a lot of adversity right there. But they came in the second half, stayed together as a team, and they kept fighting, they kept playing - they competed a little better than what they did in the first half."

"That's really not easy to do what they did - and believe me, because I've been on both ends of it," said Felus.

Franklin & Marshall (3-1, 1-1 Centennial) took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, when tailback John Kaschak rambled 15 yards for a touchdown with 6:09 remaining in the opening frame, ending a 13-play, 75-yard Diplomat drive.

The Diplomats tacked on four touchdowns in a second quarter in which F&M controlled the ball for 8:06. Kaschak recorded his second rushing TD of the day with 11:42 left in the half on a five-yard run, putting the Dips up 14-0.

Later in the quarter, F&M quarterback John Harrison, the nation's seventh-best passer in Division III at 337.0 yards per game, put three touchdowns on the Diplomat side of the scoreboard with a pair of long TD passes to receiver George Eager. The first was a 65-yard strike on a second-and-20 play that was F&M's third play of the drive, that put the Diplomats in front 21-0 with 7:42 remaining.

After holding the Eagles to three-and-out, Harrison and Eager hooked up on a 29-yard pass play with 2:15 remaining, to expand the F&M lead to 28-0. Just under two minutes later, Harrison hit Eager on a 24-yard completion in the end zone, but the extra-point attempt failed to leave the Diplomats with a 34-0 advantage.

"It sounds like a broken record, but - again - we don't play smarter, we don't play harder, we don't play tougher in the first half, and that's the reason why we're down 34-0," said Felus. "I feel bad for the assistant coaches, I feel bad for the players, but until we get all 70 guys on the roster buying into what we're doing..."

"Our shortcomings can be exploited early and easy if we don't get lined up, if we don't tackle well, if we drop passes," added Felus.

Harrison finished the day 19-of-26 passing for 317 yards and three touchdowns. Eager tallied 141 yards on four receptions, while Ryan Murray had four catches for 47 yards. Kaschak had 29 yards rushing, and another 60 yards receiving.

"They're talented on offense â?" that's the most talented team we've seen so far," said Felus. "The quarterback's poised and he's polished, and they can run the ball when they want to."

Linemen Jason Marquis (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette) and Matt Walton (West Chester, Pa./Downingtown) led the Eagle defensive unit with six tackles each. Cornerback Kyle McKechnie (Shillington, Pa./Governor Mifflin) and linebacker Michael Casper (Export, Pa./Franklin) each recorded five tackles.

Cornerback Andy Miller (Lancaster, Pa./Manheim Township) had a pair of pass break-ups, including a spectacular disruption on a Harrison-to-Eager pass attempt on F&M's second possession of the game.

"Miller's playing at a level that's very consistent," said Felus. "Andy's a senior that's played a lot of football around here, and he's bought into what we're doing."

Juniata faces Centennial Conference-rival McDaniel College next Saturday in Westminster, Md., with a 1:00 p.m. kickoff. The game marks a homecoming for Juniata's Felus, who graduated from then-Western Maryland College in 1995. Felus is the first Centennial Conference graduate to be head coach of a Centennial football program.

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