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Juniata miscues lead Muhlenberg past the Eagles, 38-3

(Posted October 9, 2010)

ALLENTOWN, Pa. -- Turnovers undermined a promising start for Juniata College as the Eagles dropped a 38-3 Centennial Conference loss to Muhlenberg College, Saturday afternoon at Scotty Wood Stadium.

Juniata (0-5, 0-5 Centennial) committed six turnovers leading directly to 21 points for Muhlenberg, including a fumble recovery and an interception in the first quarter that led to a 21-3 lead for the Mules at the end of the opening frame.

The Eagles picked up some early momentum in the contest, after stopping Muhlenberg on a 4th-and-two play at the Juniata 34 on the Mules' first series of the game.

Taking over on downs, Juniata moved all the way to the Muhlenberg 10 with an impressive drive. Freshman quarterback Gino Ramires (Johnstown, Pa./Richland) connected with sophomore wideout Julian Valdiserri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) on a 24-yard hookup, while tailback Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) rushed six times for 31 yards.

Sophomore Scott Andrews (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) capped the drive with a 27-yard field goal, his fourth of the season, with 5:26 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Juniata lead was shortlived, as Muhlenberg's Chase Nadell returned Andrews' ensuing kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. The next two Juniata drives also ended with turnovers, both in Juniata territory, with Muhlenberg coming away with a touchdown on each occasion. The Mules tacked on a field goal and another touchdown in the second half, and held a 31-3 lead at the break.

Juniata had its opportunities to take bites out of the Mules' lead, but were unable to capitalize.

An Owen Phillips (West Chester, Pa./Downingtown West) punt with 9:04 remaining in the first half was fumbled by Muhlenberg's John Gruver, and recovered by Juniata's Jerrell Nunnally at the Mules' 24. The Eagles got down to the nine-yard line but were pushed back with a holding penalty, and Andrews' 36-yard field goal attempt three plays later fell short of the mark.

A third quarter Juniata drive that started at the Eagles' 40-yard line reached all the way to the Muhlenberg 3, thanks to a 25-yard pass play from backup quarterback David Smyers (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) to Dinambi Butler (Washington, D.C./Archbishop Carroll) and a 32-yard strike to Valdiserri.

A personal foul penalty knocked the Eagles back to the Muhlenberg 18, and two plays later a Smyers' pass attempt was picked off in the endzone to turn Juniata away with no points.

The Eagles finished with 186 yards of offense, led by Kramer with 71 yards rushing on 16 carries. Ramires was 5-of-15 passing for 45 yards with one interception; Smyers was 5-of-11 through the air for 66 yards with three passes picked off. Valdiserri, Carrington Jones (Frederick, Md./Tuscarora), and Dominic Bornman (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) each had two receptions on the afternoon.

Defensively, linebacker Noah Walstrom (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) led the Eagles with six total tackles, four of which were unassisted, with 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Senior safety Jordan Baird (Sayre, Pa./Athens Area), linebacker Chris Moss (South Fork, Pa./Forest Hills), and linebacker Greg Nixon (Baltimore, Md./Baltimore Poly) each had five tackles.

Muhlenberg finished with 268 yards offense, with Terrence Dandridge rushing for 104 yards on nine carries. Kevin Van Laar carried 12 times for the Mules, and ended the day with 29 yards. Mules quarterback Dan Deighan was 6-of-11 passing for 67 yards with one TD.

Juniata returns home for four of its next five games. The Eagles begin their second half of the season on Saturday, Oct. 16, when they host Gettysburg College at 1:00 p.m. at Knox Stadium.

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