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Moravian Beats Eagles Using Ground Game

(Posted October 14, 2002)

Oftentimes the explanation for why one team wins, and another team loses a football game is pretty simple. The team that makes the most plays is going to win the game. Moravian made more plays than Juniata in all facets of the game, which explains the Greyhounds 39-23 victory over the Eagles.

"They simply made more big-plays then we did," Eagle Head Coach Kevin Burke said. "We didn't convert on a couple of fourth-down plays, and we couldn't stop them from driving in the second half. We just haven't been able to keep our focus at all times, which has kept us from making all of the plays we should."

The loss dropped Juniata to 4-2 overall, after winning their first four to start the season. They are 3-2 in the MAC. Moravian is 3-2 overall and in the MAC.

The Eagles started the game off on the right foot, marching 58 yards and scoring on a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Greg Troutman to Craig Moshier.

Moravian responded with two field goals and a touchdown to make the score 12-7 in favor of the Greyhounds. The home team featured a punishing rushing attack for most of the game, with just enough play-action passing thrown in to keep the Eagles off balance.

"Moravian had a great game plan," Burke said. "They are a well-coached team and [Moravian Head] Coach Scot Dapp and his staff did a great job preparing their team."

There appeared to be a turning point in momentum near the close of the first half. Moravian completed a pass to the one-yard line, but a holding penalty wiped out the play. On the next play, Juniata's Paul Evans picked off a pass and returned it to the Juniata 40.

The turnover seemed to spark the Eagle offense. The "O" found its rhythm and moved the ball 60 yards in five plays. A 33-yard completion to wide out Jared Lucas set up a 12-yard scoring pass from Troutman to Andrew Raup. The score gave Juniata a 15-12 lead with 45 seconds remaining in the half, and appeared to swing the momentum back in Juniata's corner.

However, Moravian responded with a drive of their own. The Greyhounds raced down the field, on a five-play, 54-yard drive ending with a 29-yard strike from Moravian quarterback Charlie Bowden to Ben Hawkins. Just like that The Greyhounds had taken back the lead, and they would not relinquish it.

"Our execution was not what it should have been at times," Burke said. "There were several occasions where our execution wasn't what we would like, and when you're facing a good team you need to execute."

The second half saw Moravian rely on a strong running game. The Greyhounds rushed for 143 yards in the second half, 263 for the game.

The home squad scored on their first drive of the half after a 53-yard kickoff return by Jed Warsager gave Moravian great field position. The return came on a re-kick after Juniata's initial kickoff went out of bounds, drawing an illegal procedure penalty.

"We really got out played in special teams today, again mainly because of a lack of execution," Burke said. "They made more plays than us in every area, including special teams."

Juniata answered the Moravian score with their longest drive of the game. Juniata moved 69-yards and finished the drive with another touchdown pass from Troutman to Raup, cutting the Greyhound lead to 26-23.

The biggest play of the game came with Juniata moving the ball and looking for the go-ahead score. Troutman had led the Eagles from their own 19 into Moravian territory. A 33-yard strike to Raup, who finished the game with 158 yards receiving, had the ball at the seven. The Moravian defense stepped up, however, as Jarrod Pence intercepted a pass in the end zone on the next play.

"You just can't turn the ball over in that situation," Burke said. "That was certainly a big-play, and they made the play and we didn't."

Moravian followed the interception by marching 77 yards on 10 plays and scoring on a one-yard run by Bowden. The drive took 5:15 and left Juniata trailing by 10 with 7:12 remaining.

Two Juniata possessions ended on failed fourth-down attempts as the Eagles ran out of opportunities. For the game, the Eagles were 1 for 6 on fourth down attempts, and 8 of 17 in third down situations.

Dave Darmofal capped the scoring for Moravian with a three-yard scoring run to give the Greyhounds the final winning margin.

Troutman finished the game with 341 yards passing, three touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for a team-leading 64 yards. Craig Moshier topped the 100-yard mark in total offense, something he has done in every game this year. Moshier had 15 catches for 122 yards and ran 14 times for 55 yards.

Freshman Peter Thomas had 18 tackles to lead the defense. Paul Evans grabbed his fifth interception of the season. Fred Taber had six tackles, and recorded the Eagles only sack.

Notes: The 18 tackles for Thomas was a season high. The freshman leads the team, and the conference in tackles. Raup's 11 catches, 158 yards and two touchdowns were all career highs.

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