(Posted October 6, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. - A look at the starting lineups prior to the game - or the heights and weights of the Muhlenberg College starters, to be precise - gave an indication that Juniata College's Centennial Conference football game against the Mules might be a tough matchup. The scoreboard at the end of the game confirmed it. A Muhlenberg defense that leads the league in scoring defense, rushing defense, and passing defense held Juniata to just 119 yards of total offense and posted a 44-3 win over the Eagles, in front of 1,200 fans on Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium in Huntingdon. Juniata dropped to 0-5 overall with the loss, 0-4 in the Centennial Conference, while Muhlenberg improved to 5-0 and 3-0. The Mules held Juniata quarterback Jay Leonard (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) to just 90 yards passing, on a 17-of-37 performance. The Eagles managed just a net 13 yards on the ground, and didn't break into positive yardage for the day until a 13-yard rush by Derek Kramer (Newville, Pa./Big Spring) in Juniata's next-to-last possession of the fourth quarter. The two teams played a close game through the first quarter and into the second, with the Mules and the Eagles trading field goals in the early going. Muhlenberg took the lead for good on John DeLuca's 10-yard touchdown run with 7:30 to play in the opening half, on the possession immediately following Juniata's 31-yard field goal off the leg of Davis Smith (Lemont, Pa./State College Area). Muhlenberg began to pull away from the Eagles late in the first half, with a 20-yard TD rush by DeLuca to put the Mules ahead 17-3. The 79-yard, 1:06 drive was keyed by a 29-yard pass from Muhlenberg quarterback Eric Santagato to Phil Cresta that put the ball on the Eagle 20-yard line, setting up DeLuca's run. After forcing Juniata to go three-and-punt to open the third quarter, Muhlenberg expanded its lead to 24-3 on a 22-yard DeLuca touchdown run. Four plays in the nine-play, 64-yard drive were for 10-or-more yards, including the scoring rush. That score was the first of four-straight second half Muhlenberg possessions that would end in touchdowns, and put the outcome of the game beyond doubt. DeLuca scored on a 38-yard touchdown carry with 6:29 left in the third quarter to put Muhlenberg up 30-3, and Matt Boland had a 30-yard TD rush as the third quarter expired to give the Mules a 37-3 lead. Muhlenberg's final touchdown came in the fourth quarter, when Codie Bender had a 16-yard touchdown carry with 6:30 left to play in the game. David Nicklaus (Lancaster, Pa./Lampeter Strasburg) led the Eagle receiving corps with three receptions for 19 yards, while Chad Steiner (Frederick, Md./Frederick) had 17 yards receiving on two catches. Kramer had 13 yards rushing on two carries. Defensively, Juniata turned in a strong effort in the first half before Muhlenberg size advantage started to wear the Eagles down in the third and fourth quarters. Josh Roy (Fredericksburg, Pa./Northern Lebanon) led the Eagles with 16 tackles, while Matt Schmidt (Spring Grove, Pa./South Western) had 15 tackles including a team-high eight solo stops. Juniata continues its inaugural trip around the Centennial Conference loop next Saturday, when it faces Gettysburg College for Homecoming in Gettysburg, Pa. -30-

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