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Defense shines once again; Juniata tops University Prep in OT thriller

By Kenny Varner

ALTOONA – The defense delivers!!

For the entire season the Juniata football team had been led by its lights out defense.

Saturday at Mansion Park, it would also make its mark in the post season as well as they tossed yet another shut out en route to an 8-0 overtime victory over University Prep in the opening round of the PIAA state playoffs.

“I wouldn’t want this game to end any other way with the defense on the field making a stop,” said Juniata coach Kurt Condo. “For the season we had with the defense. They did what they needed to do.”

Defensively, the “Big Red” defense was relentless. They finished with seven sacks in the game and had the Wildcats quarterback Keon Smalls off balanced and out of sync for most of the night.

The University Prep defense was tough as well. For most of the night, the Wildcats made Juniata earn all the yards they had gotten.

After a four quarter contest went into overtime, it would be who wanted it more that would be the team that would have their hands raised in victory.

With the ball to start the overtime period, things didn’t start out well in the first two plays for Juniata.

But the Indians found the end zone when Juniata went to a counter reverse to Seth Laub that went for the first touchdown of the game.

While lining up for the PAT, the Wildcats were offsides twice.

Juniata declined it the first time but on the second penalty, the Indians decided to send the PAT team off and brought the offense back on the field to try for the 2-point conversion.

The Indians emotional leader was quarterback Jacob Condo. Condo followed his blockers and pushed his way into the end zone, making it an 8-0 lead for “Big Red”.

Now the game was now in the hands of Juniata’s battle tested defense.

The defense didn’t disappoint as the Indians forced the Wildcats to a fourth down and goal.

On the final play of the game, Juniata stopped University Prep at the two yard line and the celebration began.

It was another historic day for the Indians as they won their first state contest in recent times, setting them up with a showdown with Meadville next weekend.

Defensively, Trent Martin and Austin Derr both led the way with seven tackles while teammate Waylon Ehrenzeller had six. Jordan Cruz and Casey Smith had five.

Offensively, Condo was the spark plug on the night as he was relentless on his runs as he finished with 43 yards rushing while throwing for 17 yards.

Leading in the rushing department was Zachary Harr who finished with 70 yards. Seth Laub also finished with a gutsy, hard fought 53-yard effort.

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