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Juniata's Stubbs has highlight reel day as Eagles fall to F&M, 40-14

(Posted September 24, 2011)

LANCASTER, Pa. -- Freshman Nicholas Stubbs (Hagerstown, Md./South Hagerstown) returned both a kick and a punt for a touchdown allowing Juniata College to stay within striking distance of Franklin & Marshall through three quarters, but the Eagles couldn't match the Diplomats' fourth quarter surge as Juniata fell to F&M, 40-14, in Centennial Conference football action Saturday afternoon at Sponaugle-Williamson Field.

Stubbs recorded a 64-yard punt return for a score at the 5:34 mark of the second quarter, cutting an early F&M lead down to 14-7. Stubbs' punt return for a touchdown was the first by a Juniata player since October 31, 1998, when Matt Eisenberg returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown.

The Diplomats (1-3, 1-2 Centennial) scored earlier in the second quarter thanks to a 70-yard interception return by Jonathan Strauss with 11:11 remaining in the frame. F&M got on the board late in the opening quarter after a 26-yard punt return and a Juniata personal foul penalty allowed the Diplomats to start a drive at the Juniata 11. F&M scored two plays later on Lamont Jackson's 16-yard touchdown catch.

Juniata (0-4, 0-3 Centennial) finished the first half with 119 yards of offense to Franklin & Marshall's 184, and trailed the Diplomats by just two touchdowns at 21-7.

F&M briefly widened its lead on its second drive of the second half, again taking advantage of a 44-yard punt return to start its sequence well into Juniata territory. A nine-yard rush on 3rd-and-4, coupled with a Juniata face mask penalty, brought the Diplomats to the Juniata one-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, F&M scored to stretch its lead to 27-7 on a Tim Muller one-yard TD rush.

The Diplomats' 20-point lead lasted exactly 15 seconds, as Stubbs returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards â?" tied for the third-longest kickoff return in Juniata history â?" for his second special teams touchdown of the day. That allowed the Eagles to head into the fourth quarter trailing the Diplomats by less than two touchdowns, 27-14.

A long scoring drive spanning the third and fourth quarters ended with a six-yard TD run by F&M's Scott LaValva to give the Diplomats a 33-14 lead. A Juniata fumble on the resulting kickoff was recovered by F&M, who stretched its lead to 40-14 with a 34-yard touchdown pass with 12:41 showing on the game clock.

Juniata finished with 141 yards offense, paced by freshman quarterback Ward Udinski's (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) 117 yards passing on a 9-of-26 performance, with four carries for 16 yards on the ground. Juniata finished with a net three yards rushing on the day.

Udinski's favorite target through the air was freshman wideout Hunter Phillips (Funkstown, Md./South Hagerstown), who had four receptions for 88 yards. Much of that was a 56-yard hookup with Udinski on Juniata's third drive of the game, which brought the Eagles all the way to the Diplomat 26-yard line. However that drive stalled when the Eagles could not convert on third or fourth down.

Juniata was 0-for-10 on third down conversions against Franklin & Marshall, while the Diplomats were 7-of-16 in third down situations. The Eagles also committed a season-high four turnovers against the Diplomats, two of which results in F&M touchdowns.

The Diplomats finished with 401 yards offense, much of that from the passing game. F&M quarterbacks John Harrison and E.J. Schneider combined to go 30-of-44 through the air for 308 yards, with receiver Tim Muller pulling in seven receptions for 93 yards. Eleven different players had receptions for the Diplomats, who also had 93 yards on the ground.

Senior cornerback Andrew Masullo (Bellefonte, Pa./Bellefonte) paced the Juniata defense with eight total tackles, including six unassisted stops, and grabbed his third career interception on a pick in the second quarter. Safety Chris Beall (Blue Bell, Pa./Wissahickon) and linebacker Kevin Gorman (Waverly, N.Y./Waverly Central) each had seven total tackles.

Sophomore linemen Jared Shope (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) and Brandon Felus (Columbia, Pa./Columbia) each recorded sacks for the Eagles. For Shope, the sack was the first of his career.

The Eagles return home next Saturday, Oct. 1, to face No. 23 Johns Hopkins on Juniata's Homecoming & Family Weekend. Kick-off at Knox Stadium 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.