By Joshua Yoder
HUNTINGDON – This game was for the birds as the Juniata College Eagles took advantage of a second half surge that ended up leading them to a 31-21 victory over the Hartwick Hawks in College Football action Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles were down 14-3 heading into the third quarter of the game when things seem to turn around for them.
It all started on the first possession of the third quarter when Hartwick fumbled the football and the Eagles recovered. Then literally the very next play, Calvin German found a wide open Makih Hunt for a 25 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead down to 14-10.
The Eagles struck again later in the quarter, running back Joey Menke busted loose with a 69 yard run for the touchdown and gave them a 17-14.
But the Hawks responded late in the third period when Dennis Riordan connected with Nate Rath for a 35 yard touchdown pass to take back the lead with the score being 21-17.
However, the fourth quarter was all Juniata College in large part of their defense who forced a number of Hartwick turnovers that led to points.
On the first play in the fourth quarter for the Hawks ended up being a fumble which was recovered by Michael Grapin who nearly scored a touchdown but fell just short.
Either way the Eagles managed to punch in the touchdown thanks to Hunter Wolfley. The Eagles’ defense came through again as Riordan was intercepted by Dawson Booher.
And once again the offense took advantage of the turnover as German found Christian Gatlos in the endzone for a four yard touchdown pass to seal the deal at 31-21.
To say the Juniata defense came up big is a major understatement. In the first half, the Eagles only had one sack. But during the second half, the Eagles turned up the intensity and put the pressure on the Hartwick quarterbacks and compiled four sacks in the second half to have a total of five sacks for the whole game.
Another interesting stat was that the defense had no interceptions in the first half, but had two interceptions in the second half. There were also no fumbles in the first half, but once again there were two forced fumbles in the second half.
The change of halves also seem to have affected the offense as well. Junior Quarterback German who was making his first start for the Eagles had struggled throughout the first half and had no touchdowns and had thrown an interception. But then German flipped the switch and threw two touchdown passes in the second half and had no picks. German threw for 122 yards from 14 of 23.
The run game was big for the Eagles as they compiled a total of 194 rushing yards out of 39 attempts. Menke led the way and carried the ball 13 times for 106 yards with a touchdown. Wolfley had 10 rushing attempts for 72 yards and a touchdown.
Juniata had 316 yards of total offense.
Meanwhile, Hartwick had total of 374 yards of offense with Riordan went 17 of 31 for 230 yards with three touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Nate Rath was a major part of the Hawks’ offense as he had 12 catches for the game for 162 yards and had two touchdown catches.
Juniata (1-2) will look to make it two in a row as the Eagles will hit the road and will go head to head with Shenandoah next Saturday at 7 p.m.
Hartwick now falls to (1-2) and will look to rebound next Saturday as they too will be on the road to do battle with Nichols College at 3 p.m.