MOUNT UNION - Resiliency and determination in the face of adversity can create magic for a football team. No one knows this better than coach Dayton Shugarts and his Mount Union Trojans.
For the second week in a row, Mount Union had to battle back and claw its way to victory. After coming from behind to beat Huntingdon in overtime last week, the Trojans found themselves down 13-0 to Juniata Valley in their home opener Friday night.
After a listless and lackluster first half, A half where Mount Union mustered only 16 yards of offense, the Trojans rallied with 16 unanswered points in the second half to pull out the 16-13 victory over the Hornets and their stunned, silent fans.
"I said very little to them at halftime. I just said that we can do it." Shugarts said. "Our kids just came out and rose to the occasion. This is unbelievable, to do this two weeks in a row. I saw my cardiologist a couple months ago and he said I had the heart of a 40-year old. I'll tell you what; these kids are testing it big time."
Mount Union, now 2-0 on the season, began its comeback with a five-play, 47-yard drive that was capped by an 18-yard toss from Trevon Walker to Kole House on the slant play. A 21-yard run by Darrian Stapleton and a 14-yard catch by Klayton Heffner keyed the drive. Dylan Smith's PAT made it 13-7 with 4:59 left in the third.
The momentum completely swung the Trojans way after Smith broke through the Juniata Valley offensive line untouched and stopped Aaron Maysonet in the end zone for the safety, cutting the Hornet lead to 13-9 with 10:16 left in regulation.
Juniata Valley (1-1) played the rest of the game on its heels, trying to preserve a lead instead of playing to win.
After exchanging punts, the Trojans mounted their go-ahead scoring drive, a drive that took only four plays to reach paydirt, with 6:14 on the clock.
Stapleton ran for 9 yards and Loner scampered for four yards on a reverse for a first down at the Hornets 28. On second-and-10, Walker found Loner in the back of the end zone with the junior receiver out-leaping the defender to come down with the grab and the score to give Mount Union a lead it would never surrender.
Juniata Valley dominated the first half, outgaining the Trojans 187-16. In the second half, the Hornets were out-gunned 176-33.
Jesse Claar scored from 4 yards out and Caleb Taylor connected with Gordon Gable on a 3-yard TD pass to give Juniata Valley the early 13-0 advantage
Juniata Valley coach Mike Smith declined to comment on the game.
The Hornets host Claysburg-Kimmel on Friday.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata Valley0 13 0 0 - 13
Mount Union0 0 7 9 - 16
JV-Claar 4 run (Taylor kick), 10:40.
JV-Gabel 3 pass from Taylor (kick failed), :04.
MU-House 18 pass from Walker (Smith kick), 4:59.
MU-Loner 28 pass from Walker, 5:45.
RUSHING: Juniata Valley-Claar 23-45, Maysonet 6-68, Wagner 2-5, Taylor 8-(-25). Mount Union-Stapleton 4-34, Smith 8-11, Grainey 2-19, Walker 8-2, Loner 3-5, Kylor 2-2, TEAM 3-(- 11).
PASSING: Juniata Valley-Taylor 9-13-0-127 . Mount Union-Walker 9-21-1-130, Smith 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING: Juniata Valley-Gabel 4-30, Claar 3-47, Maysonet 2-41. Mount Union-Heffner 5-60, House 2-35, Loner 1-28, Goodrich 1-7.
INTERCEPTIONS: Juniata Valley-Gabel. Mount Union-None.