HUNTINGDON, Pa.- The Juniata football team couldn't respond to Gettysburg College's touchdown in the final 35 seconds as the Bullets won, 31-28, Saturday afternoon at Knox Stadium in a game where turnovers and flags were flying all over the place.
The teams traded punts to start the game, so the Eagles got to take over from their own 34, but this time they made the most of it. Calvin Bembry II (Hagerstown, Md. / North Hagerstown) ran for three yards and Austin Montgomery's (Bedford, Pa. / Bedford Area HS) pass fell incomplete on second down. On third and seven Bembry took a screen pass from Montgomery and motored 63 yards for a touchdown to make it 6-0 Eagles.
A sack by Josh Parson (Port Royal, Pa. / Juniata H.S. (Kutztown) and Zach Krug (Ashville, Pa. / Penn Cambria HS) on first down help the Eagle defense force another Gettysburg punt. But the Eagles fumbled the ball back on second down as Gettysburg got another shot at offense. But the defense came through again, this time Jamel Foster (York, Pa. / Red Lion Area Senior H.S.) batted a ball up before snaring it out of the air for an interception at the Juniata 25.
A five-yard run from Charles Debose (Tonawand, N.Y. / Cardinal O'Hara HS) and a seven-yard reception by Shaheed Ross (Philadelphia, Pa. / Delaware Valley Charter HS) had the Eagles looking dangerous again. But two plays later Gettysburg intercepted an errant pass and ran it back 56 yards for six as they took a 7-6 lead.
The teams traded punts, with the Gettysburg punter pinning the Eagles back at their own four with a booming 59-yard punt. Montgomery found Clay Spencer (Hummelstown, Pa. / Lower Dauphin H.S.) for 12 yards and Ross for a big 35-yard gain up the middle to get the Eagles across midfield. Montgomery ran for three yards on third down to make it fourth and one. Juniata tried to get the defense to jump offsides, but to no avail and took a delay of game penalty. Gettysburg got whistled for running into the kicker, which moved the ball back to fourth and one. This time, the Eagles went for it and Bembry got the requisite two yards to keep the drive alive. JC got down to the Bullets 13 on a 10-yard run from Debose and a 14-yard reception by Jake Puia (Slatington, Pa. / Parkland HS). A personal foul and two sacks push the ball all the way back to the 39, so the Eagles punted. Noah Wright (Lewistown, Pa. / Mifflin County H.S.) hit a high arcing punt that bounced up at the two and was downed, pinning the Bullets deep. Gettysburg instead struck on a 98-yard TD pass as their receiver streaked down the left side of the field, caught the ball and outran everyone for six.
The Eagles next drive again stalled out and the Gettysburg took advantage. They needed six plays to go 63 yards as they scored through the air again, this time on a three-yard TD pass to make it 21-6, which was the halftime score.
The Bullets opened the third with a 13 play, 73-yard drive that culminated in a field goal from 26 yards.
Starting from their own 22, the Eagles managed to move the ball with a series of short passes. Montgomery found Ben Lauver (Mifflintown, Pa. / Juniata H.S.) for a gain of seven, Ross for a. gain of six, Bembry for a gain of five and Spencer for a. gain of seven to get the ball into Gettysburg territory. Bembry had two runs of five yards and a run of four yards as well on the drive. On first and 10 from the Bullet 29, Montgomery found Ross on the right of the field and he walked in for six to bring JC within 10. On the second Gettysburg play from scrimmage, Adam Kipp (Mt. Wolf, Pa. / Northeastern) recovered a fumble at the Gettysburg 28.
Montgomery found Debose for a 10-yard gain and ran it for 11 yards himself, but his pass on second and eight from the 13 was intercepted around the goal line.
The Juniata defense forced a three and out, and the Eagles took over at their own 42 after an illegal block in the back moved the ball back on the punt. On first and 10, the Bullets snagged their third interception of the day. The Eagle defense again managed to stand tall, forced the Bullets to punt. Gettysburg attempted a fake punt but Nathan Bargo (Reedsville, Pa. / Mifflin County HS) tackled the punter well before the first down marker.
Neither team could do anything with the ball as the teams traded punts a few times.
Marson Weh (Upper Darby, Pa. / Upper Darby H.S.) took a punt back 22 yards to the Gettysburg 43 with a little over eight minutes to go in the contest. A big sack on second down had the Eagles facing third and 22, but Montgomery found Lauver for a 46-yard gain up the right side to get Juniata in the red zone. Three plays later Debose was in the end zone and the Eagles were within three with just five and half minutes to go.
The Bullets tried to eat some clock, but on third and four a ball caromed off a Gettysburg wide receiver and into the hands of Logan Peachey (Reedsville, Pa. / Mifflin County H.S. (Kutztown) at the Gettysburg 40.
Debose ran the ball down to the 23 before Montgomery found Spencer in the back-left corner of the end zone to put Juniata ahead, 28-24, with 2:40 to play.
The Eagles left Gettysburg too much time, as they marched down the field in nine players to go back up, 31-28. The Eagles were whistled for roughing the passer on a second and short which moved the ball to the Juniata 30.
The Eagles got the ball at their own 38 with 27 seconds left. They started going nowhere fast, but on fourth and 13 Montgomery found Ross for a 28-yard gain to move the ball to the Gettysburg 35, but Juniata couldn't get any closer.
The Eagles fall to 2-3 in the Centennial and will host Moravian, Saturday at 12:00.