Ground Attack Leads Juniata to 20-7 Win at McDaniel

Deonte Alston ran for a season-best 133 yards and scored a 37-yard touchdown in his final game as an Eagle.
Deonte Alston ran for a season-best 133 yards and scored a 37-yard touchdown in his final game as an Eagle.

WESTMINSTER, Md.- The duo of Matt Lehr (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) and Deonte Alston (Bel-Air, Md./Serra Catholic) combined for 157 yards and three scores as the Juniata football team defeated McDaniel 20-7 on Saturday afternoon at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium. Overall, Juniata ran for a season-high 168 yards.


The win gives Juniata an overall record of 3-5 and a 2-5 mark in the Centennial Conference. McDaniel drops to 0-8 overall and 0-7 in the conference.


Starting quarterback Hank Coyne (Royersford, Pa./Spring-Ford) completed three of eight passes for 47 but had to leave the game due to injury. Backup James Dougherty (York, Pa./York Catholic) replaced him and was 7-of-14 for 84 yards.


The two teams exchanged punts on their opening possessions. Juniata's second drive also ended in a punt but Green Terror returner Marquise Findley-Smith muffed the punt and the Eagles' Ian O'Shea (Bellwood, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) was there to recover the ball at the McDaniel 41.


Juniata had a short field to work with. On first down, Alston ran for three yards and then followed that with a 34-yard reception from Coyne to get JC to the McDaniel four. Three plays later, Alston took it in for the one-yard score and with Kevin Bonalle's (Lebanon, Pa./Cedar Crest) extra point, JC went ahead 7-0 with 7:18 left to play in the first quarter.


The Green Terror started at their own 20 following a touchback on Jonah Plymire's (York, Pa./Central York) punt to begin the second half. McDaniel had a third and 16 at midfield when quarterback Will Koester completed a 30-yard pass to Sean Montgomery to the JC 20. From there, Perry Stafanelli broke off a 20-yard run to the endzone and with the extra point, the game was now tied at 7-7 with 11:48 showing in the second quarter.


After an exchange of punts, JC started at its own 44 with 8:31 showing on the clock. The Eagles were faced with a third and 17 at midfield. Dougherty lofted a long bomb to a wide-open Hunter Phillips (Funkstown, Md./South Hagerstown) who was downed at the one-yard line. Two plays later, Alston would score again from the one-yard line. Bonalle missed the extra point and Juniata's lead stood at 13-7 with 4:41 left on the clock.


With 26 seconds remaining until halftime, the Green Terror looked to get a quick score. McDaniel got to the 28 with four ticks showing. Kicker Mike Casper came on the field to attempt a 45-yard field goal but his attempt fell short as Juniata went into the locker room with their 13-7 lead still intact.


In the third quarter, the Green Terror nearly tied the game again. McDaniel had a first and goal at the JC 1, but running back Will Koester would be stripped of the ball by Plymire, who recovered for the Eagles at the two. The Eagles' ensuing drive got the McDaniel 43 where Dougherty would be sacked on third down and Juniata had to punt the ball away.


In the fourth quarter, the Eagles had the ball at their own 12 with 9:22 remaining. The drive stalled and JC had to punt. Once again, Findley-Smith could not handle the return and fumbled the ball away with Mitchell Shober (Stevens, Pa./Cocalico) coming up with the recovery for Juniata at the Green Terror 46 with 7:48 remaining to play.


The Eagles ran on nine straight plays, which ended with Lehr's two-yard score with 2:47 left to play to give JC a comfortable lead. Lehr ran for all 46 yards on the nine play drive.


McDaniel attempted a comeback and had possession just past midfield. On first and 10 at the JC 49, John Michael Maclay (Reedsville, Pa./Mifflin County HS) stepped in front of Koester's pass for the interception to seal the victory for the Eagles.


On defense, Ryan Bologa (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone) was the leading tackler with eight stops. Plyimire finished with seven tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Shober added six tackles, a fumble recovery, and an interception. Overall, the defense came away with three turnovers while special teams picked up two.


Lehr led in rushing with 87 yards on 18 carries and one score. Alston had 23 carries for 70 yards and two scores. Kirby Breault (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown) added three carries for 17 yards and DaVon Mitchell (Schwenksville, Pa./Perkiomen Valley) ran once for eight yards. Phillips led Eagle receivers with three grabs for 67 yards.


Juniata is on the road next Saturday when it travels to Bethlehem to face Moravian. Game time for the Eagles and Greyhounds will be at 12 p.m.