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Juniata football falls to Susquehanna 45-3 in

(Posted September 11, 2010)

SELINSGROVE, Pa. -- Juniata College had some big defensive and special teams stops in the first quarter, but momentum shifted in Susquehanna University's favor in the second quarter helping the Crusaders post a 45-3 Centennial Conference win over the Eagles at Lopardo Stadium.

The Susquehanna win allows the Crusaders to maintain possession of "The Goalpost", a six-foot high portion of the wooden goalpost from Susquehanna's Stagg Field which Juniata carried off to Huntingdon in 1952 after a 12-7 win over the Crusaders. The two teams have played for the trophy on a regular basis ever since, with Susquehanna having held The Goalpost for the past three years.

Juniata (0-2, 0-2 Centennial) finished with 153 yards of total offense. Three different Eagle quarterbacks saw action during the afternoon, with freshman David Smyers (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) getting the start and completing five of his 10 attempts for 14 yards. Freshman Gino Ramires (Johnstown, Pa./Richland) came on early in the second quarter, and was 4-of-8 for 35 yards through the air.

Junior Brian Pugh (Valley Stream, N.Y./Holy Cross HS) saw some action in the fourth quarter, and was 3-of-8 for 25 yards with one interception.

Receivers Dan Fenton (Johnstown, Pa./Richland), Ryan Gaunt (Johnstown, Pa./Ferndale), Julian Valdiserri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) and Quadir Christian (Johnstown, Pa./Greater Johnstown) each had a pair of receptions, led by Fenton with 22 yards receiving.

On the ground, senior tailback Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) gained 40 yards on 12 carries, while freshman Zach McCaulley (Bellwood, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) tallied 27 net yards on 15 carries, but had gains of 67 yards on the day.

The Juniata defensive and special teams squads looked impressive in the early going, containing Susquehanna on its first two possessions of the game.

Juniata's Jerell Nunnally (Baltimore, Md./Archbishop Curley) blocked a Susquehanna punt on a 4th-and-16 play at the Eagle 45-yard line, ending the Crusaders' opening drive. On its next possession, Susquehanna's attempt at a fake punt on fourth down at the Juniata 38 was picked up by the Eagle defense, and stopped well short of a first down.

The Eagles were unable to capitalize on their defensive stops, and Juniata went three-and-out on its first two possessions. Susquehanna finally broke into the Juniata endzone on its third series of the opening quarter, as quarterback Rich Palazzi hit flanker Mike Ritter on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 showing on the clock.

Susquehanna added to its lead barely three minutes later thanks to a Juniata miscue. Smyers' only interception of the day gave the ball to the Crusaders on their own 25, and two players later Palazzi and Ritter connected on a 59-yard TD play to give Susquehanna a 14-0 lead.

Juniata got on the scoreboard on the ensuing drive, as Scott Andrews (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) converted a 31-yard field goal attempt with 7:41 remaining in the half. The field goal capped an 11-play, 66-yard drive for the Eagles, which was fueled by a pair of contact-to-the-helmet penalties on the Crusaders.

The Crusaders added a pair of touchdowns and a field goal to their lead before the end of the first half, all aided by big plays or turnovers, and went into the lockerroom with a 31-3 lead at the intermission. Susquehanna's two touchdowns in the second half also took advantage of big plays or turnovers, including a blocked punt that was returned 15 yards for a score.

Juniata's Andrews had a chance to tack on a second field goal at the end of Juniata's opening drive of the second half, but his 42-yard attempt at the end of a nearly four minute-long, eight-play, 44-yard drive fell short of the crossbar.

Juniata's defense kept the pressure on Susquehanna's Palazzi all day and effectively covered their assigned receivers. However the Crusaders managed to find some mismatches with their receiving corps that averaged over two inches taller than the Eagle secondary.

Freshman linebacker Kevin Gorman (Waverly, N.Y./Waverly Central) led the Juniata defense with 10 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss of 10 yards. Eight of Gorman's tackles were solo stops. Senior safety Jordan Baird (Sayre, Pa./Athens Area) finished with seven tackles, while freshman safety Chris Moss (South Folk, Pa./Forest Hills) had six tackles. Junior lineman Jason Marquis had four tackles on the day, all unassisted, and 2.0 tackles for loss of five yards.

Susquehanna finished with 466 yards of total offense, including 180 yards rushing by tailback Greg Tellish. Palazzi totalled 199 yards passing on 14 completions with four touchdowns.

Juniata stays on the road for its next Centennial Conference contest, next Saturday, Sept. 18, at Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pa. Kickoff 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.