HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata football team fell to Susquehanna in the annual Goalpost Game, 28-21, on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium.
The River Hawks won the coin toss and wasted no time, hitting on a 64-yard touchdown strike on the fourth play from scrimmage.
The Eagles came right back with an impressive drive of their own. Starting from their own 37, Austin Montgomery (Bedford, Pa./Bedford Area HS) hit Matt Lehr (Dover, Pa./York Catholic) for 18 yards and Shaheed Ross (Philadelphia, Pa./Delaware Valley Charter HS) for 11 yards to get Juniata near midfield. A few players later facing third and five Montgomery found Vinit Patel (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin HS) for 10 yards and a first down. Following two incompletions which made it third and 10, Montgomery threw a low pass to Justin Helsel (Martinsburg, Pa./Central) who made a slick grab while sliding along the turf for a first down at the Susquehanna 17. On the next play, Calvin Bembry II (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) took the hand off and got near the goal line before a River Hawk defender punched it out. Matt Denver (Indiana, Pa./Indiana) ended up with the ball in the end zone to tie the score at 7-7.
The Susquehanna offense took its time on the next drive but was no less effective, going 74 yards on 13 plays that culminated in a two yard rushing touchdown to retake the lead at 14-7.
The Eagles went three and out and Susquehanna took over at their own 45, but they wouldn't hold the ball for long. On second and 10, Joel Reighard (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) knocked the ball out and the Eagles recovered, setting up the offense with good field position. But the Susquehanna defense stood strong and Juniata went three and out.
Neither team found points on the next few drives until Susquehanna unleashed a 14 play drive that took just over seven minutes as they went up 21-7. Juniata started from their own 26 and mostly on running of Montgomery got down to the red zone with about 40 seconds left. But the Susquehanna defense harassed Montgomery and sacked him on the final two plays of the half as they led, 21-7.
The second half opened with the teams exchanging punts, but a short punt by the River Hawks set up Juniata at their own 48. Runs of eight and 10 yards by Montgomery and a 19 yard pass to Helsel had the Eagles near the end zone. Montgomery hit Daulton Snyder (New Oxford, Pa./New Oxford) on a play-action pass for a touchdown as Juniata pulled within seven.
The Juniata defense forced another three and out, highlighted by a big sack by Nick Gray (West Decatur, Pa./Phillipsburg-Osceola HS). Another short punt gave the Eagle offense the ball at the Susquehanna 47.
Montgomery hit Lehr for a 12-yard completion, and the two ran the ball the rest of the way with Montgomery running it in from two yards out to tie things up at 21-21. The Juniata defense forced the River Hawks to go three and out again, with Reighard getting his hand on the ball to break up a catch and get the stop on third down. Starting from their own 13, the Eagle offense didn't make much headway as the Susquehanna's defense forced another punt.
The Susquehanna offense got rolling again as they went 68 yards on 12 plays to take a 28-21 lead with 11 minutes left in the contest. Juniata went three and out, punting the ball back to the River Hawks with a little under 10 minutes remaining. Susquehanna ate up four and half minutes of game time as Juniata got the ball back at their own 30 with 5:19 to go.
Lehr got stopped for a one-yard loss, Brocato had an eight-yard reception before a pass fell incomplete on third down and the Eagles punted. Susquehanna again began to run the ball and milk the clock, forcing the Eagles to use timeouts. The Eagle defense stopped a run for gain on a first down and then Anton Morrow (Boiling Springs, Pa./Boiling Springs) knifed into the backfield to stop a run for a two-yard loss. On third and 12 with less than two minutes left, if Juniata got a stop they would have one final chance. The River Hawks instead hit on a screen pass for 44 yards down the left sideline all the way down to the Juniata 14 to ice the game.
The River Hawks won the Goalpost game for the third year in a row.
Juniata closes the year 3-7.