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News and Notes: Liberty Division

Each week during the 2021 season we’ll offer some news, notes, tidbits and opinions from each of the five divisions in the Mid-Penn Conference.

Juniata, UD looking to grab Liberty lead

Slated to collide Friday night at Elizabethville’s Trojan Stadium, unbeatens Juniata (1-0, 1-0) and Upper Dauphin (1-0, 1-0) put away their season-opening victories in vastly different fashion. Juniata uncorked a tremendous defensive performance (106 yards yielded, 4 first downs allowed) while fending off Line Mountain 6-3, collecting its lone points on Jordan Dickinson’s 60-yard catch-and-run from a Jacob Condo pass midway through the second quarter.

Two Line Mountain defenders converged on the play, but Dickinson bounced off the would-be stops and galloped the rest of the way unimpeded for the game’s only touchdown. Juniata managed merely 171 total yards — Condo was 6-of-11 passing for 87 yards — with Dickinson catching two passes for 70 yards and Condo rushing for a team-high 30. Interior defenders Trent Martin, Trent Kauffman and Jonathan Kauffman keyed Juniata’s defense, combining for 18 tackles. The latter Kauffman also registered two sacks. Meanwhile, UD eased past James Buchanan 60-8 behind 102 rushing yards from Aiden Wiest (8 carries) and 79 more from Brady Morgan (5 totes).

Morgan also scored three times for the Trojans, who led 48-0 at the halftime break. Inside linebacker Chase Lentz totaled nine stops, five for loss and pocketed one quarterback sack. Before the night was over, Upper Dauphin recorded 22 tackles for loss. “They’re fast paced. They run the ball,” Juniata skipper Kurt Condo said following his team’s Week 1 success. “Both this week and next week, we have to play very disciplined on defense.”

LM hoping to bounce back; ‘Nita trying to get started

Although Line Mountain’s Brandon Carson was extremely disappointed by his outfit’s inability to move the ball offensively — and the 6-3 road loss his Eagles (0-1, 0-1) suffered at Juniata — he couldn’t say enough about the way his club performed defensively (171 yards yielded, 7 first downs allowed).

This weekend, however, Carson & Co. will play at their cozy Ressler Field confines against a Susquenita side (0-0, 0-0) that was forced to postpone its opener at Elco due to COVID-19 concerns. While the Eagles managed just 106 total yards, sophomore quarterback Nick Snyder threw for 92 yards while completing five of his nine attempts. Snyder was picked off once, but his other three passes were dropped, stalling the Line Mountain attack. Brayden Boyer’s 23-yard field goal just 1:50 in, set up by the first of two Jace Hackenburg fumble recoveries, was the only score the Eagles managed. Sophomore linebacker Chandon Maurer also had a big game, recording 12 tackles. Classmate Yari Johnson finished with eight stops, including 1.5 tackles for loss.

“We had some big, big touchdown-possible plays (wind up) as drops,” Carson said. “Nick threw the ball really well. … Juniata has a really good defense. Their front seven or eight, whatever you want to call it, is really good. I’m hoping, obviously, it gets a little easier next week or whenever. We’ll see, and we’ve just got to figure something out.” In addition to making his head coaching debut, new Susquenita coach Augie Glass will be celebrating his birthday when his squad pulls into Mandata. Glass has altered a few things with the Blackhawks attack, but he hopes to maintain run-pass balance while allowing sophomore Derek Gibney the chance to throw the football more often. Yet it doesn’t figure to be easy for Susquenita since the host Eagles will be looking to clean up its Week 1 mistakes while the Blackhawks have yet to test it for real.

Rockets making return trek to Dauphin County

While James Buchanan’s Week 1 journey to Upper Dauphin ended with a 60-8 setback — Cliff Pine’s Rockets (0-1, 0-1) trailed 48-0 at the break — the Franklin Countians are hopeful their visit to Halifax (0-1, 0-1) will be more fruitful. JB was dented defensively for 393 rushing yards and seven touchdowns by UD, so shoring up a few things on that side of the ball will be a must. Getting a brand new backfield of QB John Stoner, FB Nathan Brake and HB Caleb Frey untracked against the undermanned Wildcats is another must. Halifax dropped a 48-7 decision to visiting Newport in Week 1, surrendering six scores in the first half as the Buffaloes opened a 42-0 advantage. Sophomore QB Carter Enders was a bright spot for Earl Mosley’s squad, racking up 151 yards from scrimmage (66 rushing, 85 passing) before the night was over. Enders’ 7-yard pass to Peter Ranck on the final play of the third quarter accounted for the ‘Cats’ lone score. Ranck caught four passes for 84 yards.

Newport stepping out of league play

After easing past Liberty Division playmate Halifax 48-7 in its season-opening contest, Todd Rothermel’s Newport program (1-0) will entertain West Perry (0-1) in its home opener at Katchmer Field. Quarterback Andrew Bates rushed for two first-half scores and finished with 99 yards on four carries as the Buffaloes rolled to a 42-0 halftime lead.

Bates attempted just three passes, completing one for 18 yards before calling it a night. Aiden Dishman (6-28) added touchdown runs of 5 and 4 yards for Newport, while Caleb Godbout (3-38) scored on a 2-yard run. Tyler Geer posted the other first-half score for the Buffs, returning an interception 15 yards that staked the visitors to a 21-0 lead just 5:05 into the contest.

Trent Herrera had a productive opener, yet it wasn’t enough as West Perry dropped a 34-24 decision at Big Spring. Herrera hauled in a 41-yard pass from Marcus Quaker (12-of-21 for 135 yards, 1 interception) for his first score, then returned an interception 25 yards with 5:50 gone in the second quarter as the Mustangs took a 15-14 lead. Herrera, who wheeled 22 times for 96 yards and caught five passes for 68 more, closed out the opener with a late 2-yard run.

West Perry’s other points came on Ian Goodling’s 25-yard field goal. Chunk plays hurt Bob Boden’s Mustangs, as Big Spring scored three times from 51 yards or further while racking up 432 offensive yards.

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