WINGATE — For the first half of Friday night’s football game between Bald Eagle Area and Juniata, the contest was there for the taking by either team with the Indians holding onto a slim 14-7 lead.
However, during the final 24 minutes of the game, you could color it Red & White as the Indians went on the warpath to score 20 unanswered points for a 34-7 win over the Eagles on BEA Homecoming Night 2011 at Alumni Stadium.
The Indians had a number of injuries to key personnel in the first five games, but with the Tribe now healthy and shooting for the playoffs, they let their intentions be known by taking care of business.
“This is the very first game this year we have been able to play with all 31 of our players,” said Juniata head coach Gary Klingensmith. “I think as the game went on, we were able to just wear them down. These kids are so full of fight and they just keep fighting and fighting for the whole game. We were able to keep coming at them and generally, I felt we were able to wear them down, especially in the second half.”
As for where the 4-2 record might lead the Indians, Klingensmith is hoping it will be into the post-season playoffs.
“They are fighting for a playoff spot and maybe a win or two more will allow us to get there,” he said. “Our defense has really come around the past few weeks and maybe the biggest improvement in the team is with our pass defense.”
One of the big reasons for the Juniata dominance in the second half was the outstanding play by nose tackle Dustin Burd as he spent a lot of time in the Eagle backfield during the 24 minutes.
“Everybody is playing so hard and it is just great to get a win like this one,” said Burd. “It is not just one person, but one hundred percent everybody on this team making it possible to win games like this one. It is just so much fun playing with these guys.”
When asked how he was able to get into the Eagle backfield so many times during the game, Burd said, “You just have to stare down the ball, and when that ball goes, you have to go hard with it. That is the only way to play the game of football.“
Ticketed as Wild Bill Hickock by coach Klingensmith, Burd enjoys the handle and plays hard to live up to the billing of the Old West cowboy.
“I had to look him (Hickock) up on the internet,” chuckled Burd when asked if he knew who Wild Bill was, “but now I know who he was. They (his teammates) put it on the back of my practice jersey, but make no mistake about it, I am not the only Wild Bill up there because we have a bunch of Wild Bills on this team.”
Klingensmith likes what he is seeing from his senior nose tackle.
“Dustin Burd is one of the best 60-minute players I have ever coached,” praised Klingensmith. “He is always putting pressure on the quarterback and making big plays for us. I just can’t say enough about him.”
While Burd and Company were wreaking havoc on the BEA offense, tailback Neil Bodley showed he was healthy and ready to go as he rushed for 126 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Although the game lasted 48 minutes of clock time, BEA head coach Jack Tobias could probably see some of the handwriting on the wall right from the outset of the game as the Eagles constantly shot themselves in the foot during the first half.
Missed assignments, a pair of lost fumbles and seven penalties for 44 yards in the first half were the primary reasons for the slow start by the Eagles. However, despite the multitude of mistakes, the Eagles only found themselves down by seven points at the break.
“I just told the guys that they have to play four quarters of football and they didn’t do that tonight,” said Tobias. “Without looking I would guess that our penalty yardage probably outweighed our other yardage for the game. You can’t win football games when you have that many penalties. On our first drive, I think the one penalty flipped the field around by 30 yards. You just can’t make mistakes like that and win football games.
Bodley gave the Indians the initial lead in the game with a 2-yard run midway through the opening quarter, but Nate Sharkey returned the favor for the Eagles five minutes into the second period when he bolted in from nine yards out. Tyler Schall’s PAT made it 7-6 BEA, but that was the final time the Eagles held the lead in the game.
When a team scores in the final minute or two before halftime, it usually spells trouble for their opponent and that was the case as Adam Goshorn scored his first of two touchdowns with 1:12 left in the opening half. Goshorn rushed for the two-point conversion and the Indians took their 14-7 lead to the locker room at the break.
“We had a miscue at the end of the half that put us in a bad position and they wound up scoring as a result of it,” said Tobias. “You can’t make mistakes in critical situations and that is what really hurt us tonight.”
With the Eagle offense spitting and sputtering for the second half, the Indians dominated the final two quarters of the game by scoring 20 unanswered points when Marc Zearfus hauled in an 8-yard scoring aerial from quarterback Colton Shertzer, Goshorn ripped off a 51-yard jaunt to the house and after starting the scoring in the game, Bodley capped it when he covered the final nine yards midway through the final period for the game’s final score.
Although unhappy with the second half and the final score, Tobias felt his troops went toe-to-toe with the Indians early in the game.
“Early on I thought we played great with them,” said Tobias. “We were physical with them and I thought the guys up front went right after them. But our problem was that offensively we put ourselves in bad positions and didn’t respond to the opportunities. But the bottom line is that you can’t make as many mistakes as we did tonight and expect to win football games. It just isn’t going to happen.”
Juniata (4-2) 6 8 7 13 — 34
BEA (2-4) 0 7 0 0 — 7
JUN — Neil Bodley 2 run (kick failed)(6:33)
BEA — Nate Sharkey 9 run (Tyler Schall kick)(7:07)
JUN — Adam Goshorn 10 run (Goshorn rush)(1:12
JUN — Marc Zearfus 8 pass from Colton Shertzer. (Chad Eberle kick)(1:31
JUN — Goshorn 51 run (kick failed)(10:22)
JUN — Bodley 9 run. (Eberle kick)(6:45)
Team Statistics JUN BEA
First Downs 15 11
Rushes-Yards 47-295 29-86
Passing Yards 61 99
Passing 3-12-0 10-18-1
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-Yards 7-55 11-96
JUN: Neil Bodley 18-126, 2 TDs; Adam Goshorn 8-77, 2 TDs; Cody Saner 8-46, Scott Sneath 1-12, Dakota McNemar 2-11, Devin Renninger 2-9, Josh Newcamp 2-5, Skyler Welfley 1-5, Dakhota Sweitzer 1-4, Colton Shertzer 4-0.
BEA: Cody Ripka 7-49, Nate Sharkey 7-25, 1 TD; Matt Dillon 6-18, Seth Holt 4-18, Dion Barnard 1-3, Cole Long 4-minus 27.
JUN: Colton Shertzer 3-10-0, 61 yards, 1 TD; Chad Eberle 0-2.
BEA: Cole Long 10-18-1, 93 yards.
JUN: Adam Goshorn 1-41, Chad Eberle 1-12, Mark Zearfus, 1-8, 1 TD.
BEA: Cody Ripka 4-29, Matt Dillon 3-28, Dylan Womer 1-20, Jordan Kobularcik 1-13, Jeff Koleno 1-9.