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Football drops season opener to No. 16 Washington & Jefferson, 40-0

(Posted September 3, 2011)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Juniata College was able to drive into Washington & Jefferson College territory in five of its 12 possessions, but was unable to breach the 16th-ranked Presidents' endzone in a 40-0 loss to W&J, on a sweat-drenched Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium in Huntingdon, Pa.

Both teams struggled with the high humidity and a temperature pushing into the mid-90s, but a fast-paced W&J (1-0) offense finished the day with 588 yards of total offense. Almost half of that came off the arm of Presidents' quarterback Matt Bliss, who completed 19 of 28 attempts for 286 yards and three touchdowns.

Juniata (0-1) finished the day with 68 yards of offense against W&J. The Eagles struggled to convert its third-down opportunities, going 1-of-12 in third down situations for the day.

Freshman quarterback Ward Udinski (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) was 8-of-17 passing for 35 yards in his collegiate debut and led the team with 13 carries, showing some resiliency against a tough W&J defense.

"Against a team of this caliber, I thought Ward did well," said Juniata head coach Tim Launtz.
"He's a competitor."

"But we have to convert third downs, and we have to stop third downs. We have to get off the field," added Launtz.

Quadir Christian (Johnstown, Pa./Greater Johnstown) led the Juniata ground game with 26 net yards on 10 carries, and hauled in a pair Udinski passes for 18 yards. Wideout Julian Valdiserri (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) caught two passes for six yards, while newcomer Isaiah Slutter (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack Area) also grabbed a pair of receptions for five yards.

"We had opportunities to get better, and in some cases we took them," said Launtz.

"I thought maybe we could be a little explosive with our speed offensively, and I think we'll have to work on that. Overall, we knew what our deficiencies were coming in, and those were exploited."

Juniata's best chance to exploit an opportunity came late in the first quarter, when a W&J fumble gave the Eagles possession at their own 31-yard line. Christian's 12-yard rush on second down put Juniata near midfield, but a rushing loss and a false start penalty backed the Eagles up to their own 38 for third down. Udinski hooked up with Christian on a 15-yard pass play to move into the Presidents' end of the field, but came up three yards shy of the first down.

W&J scored on its first two possessions, including a 29-yard touchdown run by Tim McNerney just 1:13 into the contest on the game's opening drive.

After holding Juniata to three-and-out on the Eagles' ensuing possession, the Presidents tacked on another touchdown at the 9:54 mark of the opening quarter. Bliss hit Adam Dominick in the end zone for a 31-yard strike, putting W&J in front, 13-0, after the Presidents missed the extra point.

The Presidents added two more touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 26-0 into the intermission, and scored twice more in the fourth quarter.

"That's as good as any team we've played in the last three or four years."

Defensively, Juniata was led by linebacker Mike Valentine (Randallstown, Md./Cardinal Gibbons) with eight tackles. Senior cornerback Andy Masullo (Bellefonte, Pa./Bellefonte) finished with seven tackles including a team high six solo stops, while safety Chris Beall (Blue Bell, Pa./Wissahickon) led a group of six players with six total tackles. Beall also recorded Juniata's lone sack of the afternoon.

The Eagles play their Centennial Conference opener next Saturday, Sept. 10, when they travel to Carlisle, Pa., to face Dickinson College. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Biddle Field.

"There's an old coaching adage that says you improve the most from your first to your second game, so we need to see how our team responds," said Launtz.

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