MIFFLINTOWN - It was slow going in the first quarter of Juniata's final home game of the season Friday when the Indians had a slim 7-0 lead over Tri-Valley League opponent Halifax after the first 12 minutes.
However, a 28-point second quarter made up for any first-quarter mistakes as the Indians rolled to a 51-19 win over the winless Wildcats, bringing their overall record to 4-5.
"I think at the beginning we were a little bit anxious, but the boys played a pretty good ball game," Juniata coach Gary Klingensmith said.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE?BOYER
Juniata’s Chad Eberle is brought down by Halifax’s Brian Crist Friday as teammates Alex Berzowski, (80) and Christopher Keys (60) watch at Dietrick Field.
Nerves may have accounted for the first-quarter issues, but both teams were dealing with them. In the quarter both teams fumbled in the red zone to miss scoring opportunities, and both also gave up an interception, but ultimately it was the Indians who took the lead when as series of two quick plays on their first drive - including a 47-yard passing play between quarterback Tyler Clark and Chad Eberle - resulted in the 7-0 lead.
The Indians then lit up the board to outpace the Wildcats 28-7 in the second quarter to add tremendous padding to their lead.
Juniata scored on all four of its second-quarter drives - the last two of which occurred after an interception by senior Andrew Boyer and a blocked punt by freshman Josh Parson.
After the Boyer interception, the Indians gained possesion on the Halifax 48-yard line and worked the ball downfield before Josh Newcamp took a one-yard run into the end zone. The Wildcats then attempted to punt away the ball on their next drive, but Parson broke through the line to block the punt, putting the ball within 10 yards of the end zone to set up a Ty Treaster rushing touchdown.
The first two touchdowns were scored on an eight-yard run from Treaster and a one-yard run by Chantz Swartz.
The fact that four different Indians scored within the first half was indicative of the way they played throughout the game - 12 different players collected offensive yards and six of them scored touchdowns as Juniata put up 446 total yards in the offensive outburst.
In the second half both teams made some adjustments, and the most notable one for Halifax was its quarterback substitution.
Known for its passing game, Halifax wasn't accomplishing much in the air in the scoring department during the first half, but substitutes Alex Berzowski and Eric Johnston affected some change when combined they completed 10 passes on 15 attempts for 124 yards. They also contributed to the running game, as they accounted for 81 of the Wildcats' 103 second-half rushing yards.
This resulted in touchdowns in both the third and fourth quarters for Halifax, but Juniata also had scoring potential left for the second half.
Many of Juniata's starters were taken out for the second string near the middle of the third and the fresh legs were ready to run the ball.
Substitute quarterback Cole Kellison scored a touchdown at 4:10 in the third quarter on a 13-yard rush. He then connected with Corry Graybill for a two-point conversion and the 43-13 lead.
Hank Moore then turned it up in the fourth quarter when an 18-yard rush put him in the end zone for the Indians' last touchdown and Kellison ran it in for the two-point conversion.
Moore finished his day with 25 yards on two carries, while Fletcher Hart contributed 34 yards on four carries.
"I was glad to get our subs in there in the third quarter," Klingensmith said. "We had some penalties called on us, and I didn't want to get anybody hurt for Pine Grove next week and I didn't want anybody to get thrown out of the game for some penalties, but I knew our second team was very capable. I'm proud of how they moved that ball on them."
In terms of penalties, both the Indians and Wildcats suffered. A loss of 105 yards on 10 calls for Juniata and 71 yards on eight calls for Halifax had both teams losing field position throughout the game.
Juniata (4-5, 3-4) will travel to Pine Grove, which clinched the TVL title Friday, on Nov. 1.
Klingensmith was proud of his seniors for their last home game.
"It's really a big deal playing their last game here on Dietrick Field, and I'm happy for them," he said.
He also pointed out Newcamp in particular, who finished the game with 49 rushing yards on seven carries, including his touchdown in the second quarter.
"It was nice to see Newcamp play a pretty good game and get that score down in there, with it being his last time (at home). The kid's been very consistent for us all year long - offense and defense he's been there for us," Klingensmith said.