By Chris Pride
For The Daily Item
ESPY -- With just over two minutes remaining in regulation Saturday afternoon, the East Juniata football team had to feel fortunate to be in a position to win its All-America Conference tilt with Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech.
Already with four fumbles and just over 100 yards of total offense, the Tigers' stingy defense couldn't quite compensate for its lackluster offense.
The Rams held a 2-to-1 advantage in both total yards and time of possession, while featuring a more balanced offense in holding off East Juniata 14-6 at Wen-Cerra Memorial Field.
"When you have four turnovers and a few of them inside their 20, you're not going to win many games," said East Juniata co-coach Tom Feltman.
The Tigers (0-2, 0-2) carried some momentum into halftime only down seven after stopping the Rams on a 4th-and-goal from the 1. That halted an impressive 13-play, 40-yard drive, which ate nearly seven minutes off the clock.
"That was huge to stop them there at the end of the half," said Feltman. "That gave us a chance in the second half to possibly win the game."
And when running back David Brantley took East Juniata's first play of the second half for 28 yards it only proved to be a mirage. The Tigers' offense had one drive last more than four plays -- the potential game-tying drive -- and managed just five first downs. Brantley had a game-high 117 yards, but was plagued by three fumbles.
Vo-Tech (1-1, 1-0) ran a total of 58 times for 164 yards as three different backs had at least 13 carries. Devin Lacey scored both Rams touchdowns as his key 13-yard run late in the third quarter made it a two-possession game.
The Rams methodically marched 77 yards in 15 plays, converting a pair of fourth downs, one of which set up Lacey's score. The drive lasted 7:55 and had the Tigers in a more desperate hole.
However, East Juniata responded immediately taking just 1:14 off the clock in a 3-play, 62-yard drive kick started by Bentley's 50-yard scamper down the right sideline. Ben Allen had the away team within eight, just two plays later on a 5-yard run up the middle.
"It was big to come back and score right away," added Feltman. "Because offensively in the first half we were awful, so it was nice to see some better runs in the second half."
But a pair of fumbles inside the Vo-Tech 20 on the next two possessions eliminated any possible comeback. East Juniata's first fumble early in the first set up Vo-Tech's first score. Set up at the Tigers' 15, it took one of four fourth down conversions to set up Lacey's 1-yard plunge.