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Juniata defense stands tall in 3-0 loss to McDaniel

(Posted September 4, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College kept visiting McDaniel bottled up offensively most of the day, but were unable to capitalize on their own drives and dropped a 3-0 decision to the Green Terror, in Saturday's Centennial Conference opener at Knox Stadium.

Saturday's game was the first 3-0 contest for the Eagles (0-1, 0-1 Centennial) since a 3-0 loss at home to Upsala in 1977, and is the fourth 3-0 game in program history.

McDaniel (1-0, 1-0 Centennial) kicker Bill Castor provided the game's only points, converting a 27-yard field goal attempt with 10:54 remaining in the second quarter.

Defensively, Juniata held McDaniel to 243 yards of total offense. The Eagles held five of the Green Terror's 14 drives in the McDaniel end of the field, limited six to three-and-out, and derailed a pair deep in Juniata territory with fourth-down stops to get the ball back on downs.

"I thought defensively our guys had a good game - I thought our defensive coaches had a good plan, a good scheme," said Juniata head coach Carmen Felus. "I thought we really played well in space today, and that had been a concern of ours."

"I thought our guys responded in some key situations. We put our defense out there in some tough situations, and I thought our players responded to some adversity in some short fields," added Felus.

Freshman linebacker Kevin Gorman (Waverly, N.Y./Waverly Central) paced the defense with 10 tackles, including six solos and a sack. Junior lineman Jason Marquis (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette) and newcomer at safety Chris Moss (South Fork, Pa./Forest Hills) each had nine tackles, as did linebacker Ed Cooney (Douglastown, Pa./St. Francis Prep).

Senior defensive end Matt Walton (West Chester, Pa./Downingtown West) seemed to romp through the McDaniel backfield at will and finished with eight tackles including 3.0 sacks for 25 yards. Walton had a hand in four of Juniata six sacks on the afternoon; the six sacks for 43 yards was the most by a Juniata defense since a six-sack performance on October 13, 2001, against Lebanon Valley College.

Offensively, David Smyers (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) took the majority of the snaps, completing 12 of 36 pass attempts with one interception in his first collegiate outing. He finished with 105 yards, accounting for most of Juniata's 184 yards of offense.

Juniata found itself knocking on the McDaniel red zone door for a go-ahead score with under five minutes remaining in the game, after starting a drive at its own 20. Senior tailback Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) carried eight times for 30 yards on the bruising drive; coupled with a McDaniel personal foul penalty, that brought Juniata to the Green Terror 20 on third-down and three.

However Smyers was sacked for a loss of 10 yards on third down, and was upended by sprawling McDaniel lineman Sam Cox on fourth down, halting the drive.

Freshman teammate Gino Ramires (Johnstown, Pa./Richland) also saw significant time on the field, especially in the first half, going 3-of-4 through the air for 12 yards.

Smyers' and Ramires' favorite target on the afternoon was Julian Valdiserri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon), who hauled in five passes for 48 yards. Smyers and Valdiserri connected on the longest pass play of the day by either squad, a 26-yard hookup along the sideline that Valdiserri pulled in on full extension to convert a 3-and-15 situation into a Juniata first down.

Abram Mellinger (Ronks, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) logged four catches for 13 yards for the Eagles, while Carrington Jones (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora) had 25 yards on a pair of receptions.

"We needed to make some plays on offense," said Felus. "We certainly had our opportunities, we tried to create some opportunities, but we just didn't make enough plays."

Juniata will take to the road next Saturday to face Susquehanna University in the "Battle for the Goalpost", which will start a string of four straight road games for the Eagles. Kickoff at Susquehanna's Lopardo Stadium is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

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