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Juniata football unable to withstand W&L's triple-option attack in 45-3 loss to Generals

(Posted November 13, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College struggled to stop a Washington & Lee rushing attack ranked fourth in Division III, and closed out its 2010 season with a 45-3 loss to the visiting Generals on Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium.

Juniata (0-10) logged 160 yards of total offense against NCAA tournament-bound Washington & Lee (8-2), however the Generals amassed 378 yards on the ground with their triple-option offense and another 104 yards through the air. Much of W&L's yardage came from running backs Luke Heinsohn and Brett Murray; Heinsohn tallied 145 yards on 15 carries, while Murray finished with 77 net yards on 12 rushes.

Eagles' tailback Zach McCaulley (Bellwood, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) carried 10 times for 41 yards to lead the Juniata rushing attack, while freshman Kevin Peoples (Forestville, Md./Archbishop Carroll) had 14 yards on eight carries.

Abe Mellinger (Ronks, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) led Juniata's receivers with five catches for 45 yards, while Julian Valdiserri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) hauled in three receptions for 16 yards.

Freshman David Smyers (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) started at quarterback for the Eagles and completed eight of his 15 pass attempts for 79 yards, but threw three interceptions on the afternoon. All three came early in Juniata possessions in the first half, forcing the defense to make a quick turnaround and head back onto the field; two led to short-field touchdowns for the Generals.

However it may have been an early second-half interception that did the most damage to Juniata's comeback efforts.

Coming out of the locker room for the third quarter trailing 21-3, Juniata took over the ball near midfield after holding W&L to three-and-out with a 15-yard punt return by Quadir Christian (Johnstown, Pa./Greater Johnstown). Gino Ramires (Johnstown, Pa./Richland), coming on to replace Smyers, engineered a well-orchestrated Eagle drive into the Generals' red zone, aided in part by a 23-yard hookup with tight end Ronnie Shrift (Altoona, Pa./Bishop Guilfoyle) on 4th-and-11. That play placed the Eagles on the Washington & Lee four-yard line, and well placed to take a big chunk out of the Generals' lead.

On 3rd-and-goal, Ramires made a pass attempt into the endzone, only to see the ball tipped into the air by a W&L lineman and fall into the arms of the Generals' John Kavanagh in the end zone.

Three plays later, the Generals scored on a 79-yard touchdown pass from W&L quarterback Charlie Westfal to Harrison Hudson - and instead of Juniata cutting W&L's lead into a two-possession contest, Washington & Lee took a 28-3 lead with 6:19 remaining in the third.

Ramires had another pass picked off and returned 38 yards on Juniata's next drive, turning the ball over to the Generals at the Juniata 15-yard line. That led to a W&L score three plays later, with a 10-yard Westfall-to-Tate Davis hookup.

The Generals tacked on a 35-yard Peter Alson field goal and a 15-yard Sasha Vandalov touchdown run in the fourth quarter, capping the win.

Juniata picked up its only score of the game late in the second quarter, courtesy a special teams success by the Eagles. Juniata blocked a punt by W&L's Spencer Richards, and Counsil recovered the ball at the Generals' 26-yard line.

A pair of Smyers completions to Mellinger and tight end Dinambi Butler (Washington, D.C./Archbishop Carroll) moved Juniata well inside the W&L 20, where the drive eventually stalled. Sophomore kicker Scott Andrews (Hollidaysburg, Pa./Altoona Area) kicked a 29-yard field goal, trimming W&L's lead to 21-3, and improving his season mark to 5-of-9 on field goals.

W&L nearly scored on its first play from scrimmage of the game, as Heinsohn ran 63 yards before before being hauled down at the Juniata 4 by cornerback Blaine Counsil (Lock Haven, Pa./Central Mountain). The Generals completed the drive four plays later, then picked off Smyers' pass attempt at the Juniata 33 on the second play of Juniata's ensuing possession.

That led to another W&L and a 14-0 lead for the Generals, before five minutes had elapsed off the first quarter clock.

Defensively, Juniata safety Chris Beall (Blue Bell, Pa./Wissahickon) had a team-high 10 tackles with five solo stops. Safety Chris Moss (South Fork, Pa./Forest Hills) and linebackers Kevin Gorman (Waverly, N.Y./Waverly Central) and Noah Walstrom (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) all tallied eight tackles for the Eagles. Senior defensive end Matt Walton (West Chester, Pa./Downingtown) capped his collegiate career with a memorable performance, recording 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles-for-loss among his seven stops on the afternoon.

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