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Juniata rushes for 54-23 win over Lebanon Valley in MAC action

Juniata College (5-2) opened the 2002 season with four straight wins, most of the time depending on the passing attack of sophomore quarterback Greg Troutman of Myersdale and his very capable receiving corps. While not one-dimensional-junior running back Craig Moshier had run for nearly 500 yards in the Eagles first six games and Troutman added 250, the pass behind a no-huddle offensive attack that keeps the opponent on their toes, has been the bread-and-butter.
On Saturday at Chuck Knox Stadium in Huntingdon, winless Lebanon Valley College scored the first 10 points and seemed on their way to a big upset before Juniata scored 38 unanswered points to finally get a 54-23 win.
Juniata was able to move the sticks for a first down just once in their first three offensive series. By the time Moshier tallied the first score for Juniata, on an 18-yard run, the first quarter had just 13 seconds left to play.
Troutman was just three of 10 passing in the first half for 11 yards against a Lebanon Valley defense that seemed primed to stop the short pass, a Juniata trend this season and did pretty well. The pass defense, in turn however, opened up the middle for the Juniata running game.
Juniata coach Kevin Burke was happy to take what Lebanon Valley would give. In this case, Burke was content to give the ball to Moshier. “He is one of the best players in the MAC (Middle Atlantic Conference),” exclaimed Burke about his premier running back. “He wants the ball as much as we can get it to him.”
Moshier carried the ball and the Eagles to a 54-23 win over Lebanon Valley that put Juniata in a third-place tie in the MAC with Lycoming, who Juniata visits in the final regular season game on Nov. 16, and Moravian, who handed Juniata their second straight loss last week 39-23. The diminutive junior (5-foot-6, 160 pounds) from Coudersport had a big day running the ball 30 times for a career-high 182 yards and three touchdowns. Moshier is the first runner to score three times for Juniata since 1996 and the 385 yards rushing for the team is the first time that the 300 yards rushing figure has been bettered since 1981.
Troutman suffered a knee injury on an awkward tackle on a fourth down and seven play near midfield with the Eagles up on Lebanon Valley 38-10. “The game wasn’t in hand at that point,” said Burke. “The lead wasn’t safe the way Lebanon Valley can throw the ball.” Troutman’s knee was stable after the game, but Burke didn’t know the severity of the injury, pending the result of tests.
Moshier scored from 10 yards to put Juniata in the lead for good capping an 11-play 74-yard drive and Dusty Lehr booted the PAT for a 17-10 lead with three and a half minutes to play in the first half.
Juniata College then forced a momentum-changer, when Jason Stouffer of Newport blocked a Lebanon Valley punt and recovered the ball at the LV-25. Three plays later, Troutman found Andrew Raup of Danville in the endzone for a seven-yard TD.
Troutman finished 11 of 25 for 137 yards, no interceptions and two TD passes. Nate Leach of Shade caught four passes for 74 yards, Raup had two for 47 and John Boyer (Indian Valley) added two for 43 and one TD. For the season, Troutman has completed 127 of 260 pases for 1,233 yards with nine TDs and just three interceptions.
Lebanon Valley freshman quarterback Zach Buffington from Upper Dauphin completed 19 of 30 passes for 261 yards, two interceptions and two TD passes. Scott Marek (Panther Valley) caught seven passes for 91 yards, and Jarrod Way (Chestnut Ridge) had five receptions for 86 yards and two TDs. Pete Henning (Souderton) has five catches for 60 yards and was the leading rusher for the Dutchmen with 54 yards on 14 carries.
Matt Garner, a 2001 Bellwood-Antis grad started in the defensive secondary for Juniata College. Matt has been getting an increasing amount of time for the Eagles, switching between inside linebacker and safety depending on what defense Juniata is in.
“It feels pretty good to be starting and getting a lot of playing time,” said Garner, who is a sophomore at Juniata. “When we run a 3-5 with three inside backers, I am a linebacker, when we run a 3-4 with two safeties, I am a safety. I would like to stay at inside linebacker rather than safety. We throw in the extra backer when we think the opponent is going to throw a lot like Lebanon Valley was doing.”
Garner was credited with four tackles on Saturday, three unassisted. Matt Wharton (Cambria Heights) led with eight and Fred Tabor (Calvert Hall, MD) had six tackles for Juniata.
“Obviously, Matt Garner is doing a exceptional job for us,” said coach Burke. “He is our nickel back and has been doing a good job all year for us.”
Troy Beaver, a freshman kick returner from Bellwood-Antis has been pressed into service since the regular returnman was injured two weeks ago. Beaver returned four punts for 87 yards on Saturday, the longest a runback of 29 yards following a free kick after Juniata recorded a safety with 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
“Troy Beaver is stepping up,” said Burke, “and is being able to do some things on kick returns. He seems to get better and better each time he gets an opportunity to touch the ball. We’re excited about him. John Hayes can send me as many kids as he wants.”