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Juniata holds on tight to thrilling victory over Burnham

An instant classic!

In the battle for third place in the Central Keystone Football’s Pee Wee Division, the Juniata Indians went head-to-head with the Burnham Bulldogs.

It was old school football at its best as both teams grinded it out and when the dust settled, the Indians would be the survivors of a 12-7 nail biter that wasn’t settled to the end of the game.

It took a strong defensive performance by the Indians to stop a last minute run by the Bulldogs to hold onto the victory, forcing the ball over on Downs with 28 seconds left.

Burnham looked to have taken the lead on an Asher Pearce keeper for the 35- yard touchdown but it was brought back on a holding call, keeping the Indians with the lead.

Defensively, the hits came early and often in the game.

After starting with the ball to start the game, the Burnham offense was forced to punt and give Juniata good field position at the Bulldogs 26.

But the Bulldogs defense had some big play capabilities of its own causing the Indians to go for it on fourth down and the shadow of the endzone on the Bulldogs’ back.

One of the key plays of the drive was Octavian Gonzalez’s smack down of the ball keeping the wide recurved for Juniata to waltz in with an easy touchdown.

Burnham stood strong and took the ball back on downs.

However, the Juniata defense was strong as well, forcing its second punt in as many possessions.

Getting the ball back on the Bulldogs’ 35, Juniata scored two plays later when Garrett Kerstetter plowed his way through for a 6-yard TD.

Burnham forced the Indians back on the PAT, trailing just 6-0.

Both defenses dug in their heels and both made some big plays, killing drives by both teams.

As the buzzer sounded for the intermission, Juniata held a 6-0 lead.

Fortunes changed when the two came out of the halftime as the Bulldogs came out offensively and started to move the ball.

Burnham recovered a fumble on the kickoff, putting them in its best field position of the afternoon.

Two plays later, quarterback Asher Pearce got free out around the end and scored from 11-yards out.

Pearce also picked up the hard earned extra point after looking as if he would come up short before stretching out his arms over the goal line before his knees touched, giving the Bulldogs a 7-6 advantage.

However, Juniata got its ground game going literally putting on the back of running back Kerstetter.

Kerstetter grinded it out and put his team down to the Burnham two.

They called Kerstetter’s name at the two and he did not disappoint, running it in for the go ahead TD.

Again, the PAT failed and Burnham only trailed by five.

In its last possession, the Bulldogs had Pearce run out around and he got into the secondary and blazed his way to an apparent score with 59 ticks on the clock but in the backfield was a yellow flag, which brought the play and the score back.

From there, the Indians took the victory formation and went home with the third place trophy.

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