WESTMINSTER, Md.- Austin Montgomery (Bedford, Pa./Bedford Area) hauled in a short pass from Jake Notestine (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) to convert the two-point conversion as Juniata won an OT thriller, 42-41, over McDaniel at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Montgomery went 18-31 with 219 yards and three touchdowns. Matt Lehr (Dover, Pa. / York Catholic HS) ran for 141 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. Notestine caught six balls for 87 yards and a touchdown. Joel Reighard (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area HS) led the defense with 14 tackles and a blocked kick. Mitchell Shober (Stevens, Pa./Cocalico Sr. HS) had 11 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup.
Heading into the fourth quarter, it appeared that a single touchdown would swing the game as Juniata went into the fourth with a narrow 20-17 lead, but McDaniel was driving. A minute and a half into the ballgame, the Green Terror ran it in from a yard out to retake the lead at 24-20. Both offenses started to heat up from there.
On the first offensive play following the touchdown, Lehr rushed for 32 yards to the Juniata 45. Three plays later Montgomery threw a 27 yard pass to Notestine who was pushed out of bounds at the McDaniel 20. A 15-yard completion to AJ Brocato (Abingdon, Md./Patterson Mills) moved the Eagles down to the three and Lehr ran it in from there to give Juniata the lead back, 27-24.
McDaniel took over at their own 37 and quickly began to move the ball. A couple of good gains on the ground paired with a pass interference penalty on Juniata helped move them to the Juniata 21. On the next play, Matt Cathey of McDaniel found a crease and ran 20 yards for a touchdown to take the lead back at 31-27.
Juniata got the ball back at their own 24 with a little over eight minutes left. Montgomery threw a strike to Daulton Snyder (New Oxford, Pa./New Oxford) for 18 yards. The drive stalled from there, so on fourth and six Juniata lined up to punt. McDaniel was whistled for 12 men on the field so now with a fourth and one, the Eagles went for it. Lehr got stuffed for a two-yard loss on the play as the Green Terror took over from the Juniata 49. Six straight running plays got them to fourth and two from the Juniata 18, so they elected to try a field goal. Reighard had other ideas however, and got enough of a hand on it to send it wide left as Juniata took over at their own 20 with 2:34 left in the game.
Montgomery opened the drive by connecting with Notestine for a 34-yard completion. Another completion to Notestine for 12 yards and a 13-yard completion to Snyder moved them down to the Terror 17. Montgomery ran the ball down to the seven and a McDaniel penalty moved the Eagles to the four. An incompletion followed by a sack caused Juniata to call timeout to stop the clock with 24 seconds remaining in the contest. Montgomery hit Brocato for a touchdown to give Juniata the lead back at 34-31 with 18 seconds left on the clock.
McDaniel started at their own 30 with 11 seconds on the clock, but that turned out to be enough time. A 41-yard pass moved McDaniel all the way down to the JC 29 and they called timeout with four seconds left. The Terror kicker drilled it from 46 yards out to send the game into overtime.
McDaniel started with the ball, and after two plays for little to no gain were faced with third and seven. A 20-yard pass moved them down to the Juniata two. The Eagle defense turned them away, stuffing three straight run plays. On fourth and one, McDaniel broke through and converted the extra point to go up 41-34.
When the Eagles got the ball, on the first play from scrimmage Montgomery dumped the ball off to Lehr on a screen. With excellent blocking in front of him he cruised into the end zone to set up the final play. Montgomery walked to the left of the line like he was trying to communicate an audible and the ball was snapped to Lehr. He ran to his right and handed it to Notestine who rolled to his left as Montgomery ran towards the left corner of the end zone. Notestine lobbed it up to him and Montgomery snagged it to clinch the victory.
The first half got off to a slow start, with McDaniel scoring the lone touchdown of the first quarter. Juniata then reeled of 20 second quarter points, capped by Nick Grey's (West Decatur, Pa./Phillipsburg-Osceola HS) 59-yard pick-six. McDaniel scored the final touchdown of the half and the only points of the third via a field goal before the wild fourth quarter and overtime.
Head coach Tim Launtz talked about the final play, postgame. "It was tremendous call by the offensive staff. Nobody had seen it yet this season, that's why it was called, and the team executed it to perfection. Overall, it was total team win. Special teams, offense and defense. It took everything we had to win that game. We showed great resolve and perseverance. We have had it rough these last couple weeks, we could have folded our tents today, but we didn't."
Juniata will host Gettysburg, Saturday October 7th at 1:00.