MANDATA – He had found the Juniata defense tough to penetrate most of the night and lost a fumble with his team in the red zone. But that was all forgotten after two plays.
Line Mountain senior tailback Colby Scott took the ball up the middle twice, the second time for a 5-yard touchdown run that proved the difference Friday night in the Eagles’ thrilling 27-20 overtime victory at Glenn Ressler Field at Eagle Stadium.
Scott said, “That was mind-blowing to come through and pull it off, get the touchdown. I had a lot of confidence in the team that we would pull through.”
Line Mountain coach Brandon Carson said, “We just were trying to set up another play with that first run (for five yards) and when we had such success with it and we saw a huge bubble there in the defense we decided to run it again.”
Carson added, “Colby ran really, really hard and kept his legs churning and I know he wanted it so that was a great job by him.”
Scott said there were small mistakes in the game but his team pulled through and got over it.
As for playing his first overtime, he said, “I had to do my job as best as I can. That was probably the best I’ve ever felt in my life.”
The Eagles (2-2, 2-1 Tri-Valley League) also prevented veteran Juniata coach Gary Klingensmith from picking up his 300th career win.
“This was the biggest win so far, we had to beat this team,” he said, noting that it was important to keep the coach from getting his 300th against the Eagles.
The Indians won the overtime toss and chose defense.
After having success running the ball all night, the Indians saw a different Eagle defense when it mattered in the overtime.
Senior linebacker Chance Hackenburg threw tailback Ethan Grove for a loss on the first play, then Cameron Gaw sacked quarterback Jeremiah Parson before the latter threw an incompletion. On fourth down, and the Indians’ final chance, Hackenburg stuffed Grove on a pitch around the right side to secure the win.
Carson said, “We made an adjustment with our outside backer and our tackle and we decided to do a little bit of a loop stunt and we slammed Chance into the hole and looped our tackle out and it ended up messing up their whole outside blocking scheme.”
The Eagles battled adversity all night, from the time they fell behind 7-0 on the Indians’ opening possession. Grove capped a 10-play drive with an 11-yard run on a toss to the right and Chris Esh’s PAT made it 7-0 with 8:09 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles went three-and-out, but pressure by Eagles linebacker Cameron Gaw helped Line Mountain stop Juniata and allow the home team to tie the contest at 7-all on a 25-yard pass from Evan Herb to Cody Ebersole with 3:31 left in the first half and Jacob Feese’s PAT.
That score was set up by a pass interference penalty against the Indians (0-2, 0-2).
Juniata regained the lead on a 25-yard pass from Parson to Jamie Bailer on the first play of the second quarter.
The Eagles’ defense bent but didn’t break to keep it 14-7 at halftime. Juniata kept the ball for more than seven minutes and 11 plays before the Eagles stopped the Indians on fourth-and-12 at the Eagles 23.
Line Mountain took the opening second-half possession and drove 67 yards on seven plays, and tying it at 14-all on Scott’s 5-yard TD run with 9:12 left in the third.
That score was set up by a 42-yard pass from Herb to Evan Derk, who had a big night, with three catches for 125 yards and 21 rushes for 62 yards.
Derk said, “The line just got good blocking and the receivers were making good routes, we caught the ball and found open space.”
Derk also helped keep a drive alive when he beat a defender deep and drew a pass interference penalty.
“I didn’t know (about the call). I hit my head hard and I looked up and saw the flag and I was happy then,” he said.
Carson ran Derk out of the backfield on several plays. He said, “Colby’s been running really hard and Breven just brings a little better footwork, better vison and a little bit of explosiveness. I was pretty happy with the result and then we were able to motion Breven out and get him the ball that way too.”
After an exchange of punts, the Indians went back on top with a controversial diving 24-yard TD catch by an outstretched Bailer from Parson on a fourth-and-eight.
But Ebersole shot through to block the PAT to kept it at 20-14 with 1:51 left in the third.
The Eagles answered right back with a 70-yard scoring drive spanning the third and fourth quarters with Herb hitting Adam Malafi on a post for 34 yards. But freshman Jacob Condo returned the favor for the Indians and block the PAT to keep it at 20-20 with 10:42 left.
The Line Mountain defense stopped the Indians after another long drive and then blocked a 35-yard field goal try by Esh with 25 seconds left in regulation.
Carson said Herb and the receivers played with a lot more confidence.
Carson added that he told the players they stuck together and played for each other and didn’t give up.
“When you truly become a team that’s the stuff that happens,” Carson added.
Derk added, “That was amazing, one of the best feelings I could ever feel.”
“I was trying to get everyone organized and make the linecalls and get everyone into the same plays and we had to stop them. The line played a big part in tonight’s game.”
Klingensmith said that despite the loss, his team played hard and he knows that that first win will come. He also said he hopes to have injured two-way starter Bryson Clark (hamstring) back next week.