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A first quarter lead and defensive pressure combine to lead Juniata football past Moravian

(Posted October 24, 2009)

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- Juniata College puts points on the scoreboard in each of its first two possessions then allowed the defense to keep Moravian College at bay as the Eagles notched a 10-3 Centennial Conference triumph over the Greyhounds, Saturday afternoon at Rocco Calvo Field.

The win was the first career head coaching victory for first-year Juniata head coach Carmen Felus, and gave the Eagles (1-7, 1-5 Centennial) their first win of the season

Senior quarterback Alex Snyder (Boalsburg, Pa./State College Area) connected with flanker Abram Mellinger (Ronks, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) on a 30-yard touchdown pass on just the fifth play of the game, giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead at the 12:26 mark of the opening quarter.

The Eagles opened that drive with excellent field position, after Moravian (1-7, 1-5 Centennial) attempted an on-side kick on the opening kickoff. Juniata recovered the kick, taking over at the Moravian 42-yard line.

After forcing the Greyhounds to go three-and-out on its first possession after the Eagle touchdown, Juniata took over at its own 34-yard line. A 14-yard rush by Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) and a seven-yard Snyder-to-Mellinger pass moved the Eagles into the Greyhounds' end of the field, and Snyder's 40-yard completion to wideout Matt Dunker (Glenshaw, Pa./Shaler) gave the Eagles a first-and-goal on the Moravian 5.

Four plays later, kicker Scott Andrews (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) booted an 18-yard field goal to widen the Juniata lead to 10-0.

Moravian's two best chances to score in the first half both fizzled deep in Juniata territory, sending the Eagles into the locker room at halftime holding onto the 10-0 advantage. A late first quarter Moravian drive stalled at the Eagle 22-yard line when Andy Polony's pass attempt on fourth down was incomplete. Later in the half, the Greyhounds ended the second quarter on the Juniata two-yard line, after four unsuccessful attempts to find the endzone from a first-and-goal at the Eagle 10.

The Greyhounds broke the shutout with their second possession of the second half, when Ian Heck kicked a 19-yard field goal with 5:07 remaining in the third quarter.

Juniata nearly took the three points back on its next possession. Taking over on its own 34 after the field goal, the Eagles moved into Moravian territory on a personal foul penalty, and marched all the way down to the Greyhound five-yard line. Andrews' 22-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Moravian's Jason Pauloski, keeping the Greyhounds within seven points of the Eagles.

Kramer led the Juniata ground game with 74 yards on 25 carries. Snyder went 10-of-16 through the air for 110 yards and one touchdown, with Dunker hauling in a team-high six passes for 68 yards.

Defensively, cornerback Kyle McKechnie (Shillingtown, Pa./Governor Mifflin) paced the defensive effort with 13 total tackles, including five solo stops and an interception that squashed a Moravian drive right out of the gate at the Moravian 34-yard line. McKechnie led an Eagle defense that did not allow Moravian out of its own end of the field on five of its 11 possessions, and limited the Greyhounds to 267 yards of offense.

The Juniata defense also successfully contained Moravian on each of its four fourth-down conversion attempts, including a pair in the fourth quarter in the Eagles' end of the field.

Linebacker Chris Stephens (Birdsboro, Pa./Daniel Boone) had 10 tackles, four unassisted, with one sack. Lineman Dan Kraft (York, Pa./Eastern York) recorded seven tackles.

The win ended Juniata's 23-game winless streak in road games, and was the Eagles' first road victory since joining the Centennial Conference. Juniata's win over Moravian ended a string of five-straight Greyhound victories in the series, and was the Eagles' first victory in Bethlehem since a 21-14 win in 2003.

Juniata closes out its home slate next Saturday, Oct. 31, when it hosts Johns Hopkins University as part of Homecoming and Family Weekend festivities.

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