BEAVER SPRINGS - Juniata's Neil Bodley was probably still in diapers the last time cross-county rivals Juniata and East Juniata faced off in football in 1996. But his - and the rest of the Indians' - performance was anything but babyish as the Juniata romped, 42-6, over the Tigers Friday.
And quarterback Bodley was a big part of that win. With 145 rushing yards and four of the Indians' six touchdowns, Bodley was nearly unstoppable - but it wasn't just a one man show.
The Indians came out as a strong front from the beginning, starting the first drive of the game on the Tiger 26-yard line, and employing four different rushers to eventually get the ball down the field and in the end zone on a Bodley three-yard run.
Sentinel photo by MATT?STRICKER
Juniata’s Neil Bodley, center, muscles his way across the goal line for a touchdown against East Juniata Friday in Beaver Springs.
On the ensuing drive, East Juniata got the ball on its own 20 yard line after Juniata's Dakota McNemar kicked the ball into the end zone. Things then momentarily looked up for the Tigers when on the second play of the drive East Juniata's Logan Hambright broke through Juniata's line for a 13 yard rush, but then Juniata's defense closed in to shut down the Tigers. After three more short runs, the Tigers were at fourth-and-7 from their own 36, but were unable to make the conversion and lost the ball on downs.
"We had a couple things not break our way early, and it kind of broke our kids and things kind of went downhill," East Juniata coach Simon Cameron said. Perhaps that turnover on downs was one of those plays Cameron referenced.
After the loss of possession, with the Indians now in good position on the Tiger 36-yard line, the momentum that was already leaning in Juniata's direction went full tilt in favor of the Indians. This was evident when, after a 13-yard run from Chad Eberle and a 20 yard run from Scott Sneath, the Indians were only three yards from another touchdown, which Bodley scored with 4:32 left to play in the first quarter.
IF YOU GO
* Juniata hosts Upper Dauphin Friday
* East?Juniata travels to Newport Friday
"We played like a machine. I told the boys we were the better team, and to come out and bring our 'A' game and play disciplined football, and control the ball, and they did. It was a good win," Juniata coach Gary Klingensmith said.
Klingensmith wasn't kidding. The "Big Red Machine" came out charging in the first quarter, but the boys were nowhere near finished with their scoring at the start of the second.
The Indians put together four consecutive scoring drives in the second quarter, leading to what not only was an impressive show of offense, but what was more importantly a 42-0 lead.
"They (East Juniata) were all ganged up for the run, no doubt about it. But we ran anyway," Klingensmith said. And run the Indians did.
Of Juniata's four second-quarter touchdowns, three were scored on rushing plays. The odd one out was scored by Scott Sneath after he recovered an East Juniata fumble on the Tigers' 17-yard line.
But if Juniata dominated the game, it wasn't for lack of a plan from the Tigers. Cameron said their plan from the beginning had been to stop Juniata's rushing game - they just weren't quite able to pull through on that end.
"My goal was to limit (Juniata) about five yards a clip because they do make mistakes - they had a fumble. Their passing's not that good, and if my DB was back we could usually pick one off. We were prepared, we just didn't execute," Cameron said.
On the offensive end for the Tigers, David Brantley, Logan Hambright and Caleb Gehman lead the attack. Each contributed significantly to East Juniata's total yardarge, and it was long runs by Brantley and Gehman in East Juniata's only scoring drive that led up to a four-yard run into the end zone by Austin Bennet with 2:28 left in the game.
Another offensive opportunity for East Juniata occurred after Brandon Love returned a Juniata kick from the Tigers' 5-yard line all the way to the end zone, but the play was called back after an illegal block, and the Tigers were unable to make anything of the drive.
In fact, it was penalties such as these that Cameron cited as part of the reason his team was unable to put together much offense.
"The penalties killed us. We had a couple plays set up, but then whenever the penalty happened they saw what play we were running. We can't afford the penalties," Cameron said.
Clearly, it was a frustrating game for East Juniata. But from Juniata's perspective, it was a great way to keep up its good momentum.
"I think we've got to keep getting better and better. We have Upper Dauphin next week and then Millersburg, I think, and hopefully everybody stays healthy. That's big. Our goal is to have a seven win season and get in the playoffs," Klingensmith said.
Juniata (3-2, 2-2) hosts Tri-Valley League opponent Upper Dauphin Oct. 5. East Juniata (1-4, 0-4 ) travels to Newport the same night.