By Jon Girardi
The Daily Item
HERNDON — On a 1st-and-22 following a holding penalty late in the fourth quarter with under a minute to go, Line Mountain quarterback Ryan Reed hit Cory Paul for a 47-yard pass as Paul caught it behind his defender falling down.
Reed got up to the line on 1st-and-10 from the 15 and spiked it. Next play, it was Reed who threw a perfect pass to Justin Michael down the sideline who got tackled at the Juniata 3.
It looked like momentum was on Line Mountain’s side and they were going to pull off a dramatic, late comeback win against Juniata.
Then things went cold.
From the three on 2nd-and-goal, Reed took off up the middle and was tackled just inches from the goal line. The following play, Reed fumbled the snap and lost a yard as time quickly ticked away with no timeouts remaining.
The Eagles had one last chance to score when Reed fired in the back corner of the end zone to Zach Bobb, but it wasn’t on target as Juniata walked away with an exciting 17-14 win at Glenn Ressler Field at Line Mountain High School on a chilly Friday night.
"(I told our guys) just we need to get on the ball and work the sidelines and they just have to believe we can do it, and they did. Couple kids made some plays. We got there, had a couple opportunities to score, just couldn’t get it done," Line Mountain coach Rodney Knocke said. "We’d have liked to kick a field goal there (on final possession), but just ran out of time. (In) heat of the moment trying to make decisions like that, especially when you don’t have any timeouts left, it’s tough."
The Eagles (1-2) jumped out to a 14-0 lead over Juniata (1-2) in the second quarter.
Cory Warford (14 carries, 81 yards) rumbled his way from a yard out to break open the scoreless game with 5:30 to play in the second quarter. Then with just 32 ticks left on the scoreboard, it was quarterback Reed who took off from 17 yards out and weeved his way through traffic to hit paydirt and put the Eagles up 14-0 after Warford ran in the 2-point conversion.
Juniata sank a 38-yard field goal to end the half that started to turn the tide for the Indians.
"It was momentum really. We had opportunties to score. We were there inside our own 20 a few times and couldn’t punch it in and that just gives them more opportunties to score without us scoring," Knocke said.
Line Mountain had four red zone possessions on the night, scoring on their first two.
Late in the third quarter, Juniata went to the air when quarterback Tyler Clark threw a deep pass to Dakota McNemar who beat his Line Mountain corner and got behind the secondary. McNemar trotted the remaining 50 yards easily for the 82-yard score to make it a 14-10 game.
Clark again made the Line Mountain defense pay when he hit senior full back Joshua Newcamp on a screen pass for a 21-yard touchdown to put Juniata up for the first time all day, 17-14.
The Indians scored 17 unanswered points after trailing 14-0 late in the second quarter.
"(We) fought until the very end of the game and they didn’t give up," Knocke said. "There’s five plays that usually decide a football game, and those plays tonight weren’t in our favor."
Clark ended the night with 195 passing yards and two scores on just six completions.
After back-to-back 200-plus yard rushing performances by Warford, the stellar senior was held to just 81 by Juniata’s defense.
As a team, Line Mountain ran the ball 44 times for 183 yards while Reed threw for 161 on seven completions.
The Eagles committed two interception and fumbled the ball four times — three coming in one series — although managed to retain possession each time.
Of the Eagles’ 11 drives, five resulted in turnover on downs, two ended with interceptions and two with punts.