Hornets rebound with blowout victory
ALEXANDRIA – Claysburg-Kimmel had only 63 total yards and two first downs in a first half that Juniata Valley dominated with 217 yards and 18 unanswered points.
So when Bulldogs quarterback Conner Brown hit Logan Johnson for a 63-yard touchdown on C-K’s second play of the second half, momentum seemed to swing.
But the Green Hornets regained the momentum with the running of Jesse Claar and the passing of Caleb Taylor, scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns and rode a rock-hard defense that gave up only one more first down after the TD to beat the Bulldogs, 38-6, on a windy Friday night at A.R. Simkins Field.
“I was very worried,” JV coach Mike Smith said, “because that kind of happened last week against Mount Union [a 16-13 loss]. We had a 13-0 lead, and then they got a touchdown. I was very worried to see how our kids were going to respond, but they dug down and started to grind the ball on the ground.”
“We couldn’t seem to ride the momentum that we had there,” C-K coach Gabe Walter said. “Momentum is great to have, but it will not overcome poor execution.”
Claar finished the game with 126 yards rushing on 19 carries and three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 23 and 24 yards in the first quarter. His 24-yard run – following an 8-yard C-K punt into the wind – was a textbook example of second and third effort. He appeared to be stopped for a short gain, but he kept chugging and reached the end zone.
“That one play, I thought he was down,” Smith said. “I was getting ready to call another play, and there he goes scoring. I didn’t even know he kept going. He did that last year a couple times. He keeps his legs going, and he’s hard to bring down.”
Taylor was 8-of-14 for 97 yards in the first half, and he ended up completing 10-of-17 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns – a 20-yarder to Aaron Maysonet in the second quarter and a 26-yarder to Gordan Gable in the fourth quarter. He also ran for 55 yards on 11 carries.
“I was very frustrated last week after the loss to Mount Union,” Smith said. “I just decided I didn’t want to be so much one-dimensional this year. We’re trying to open things up a little bit more.”
The Green Hornets (2-1), who had 411 total yards, had to punt on their first two possessions, but it was full steam ahead in the fourth quarter. Sandwiched between Claar’s 4-yard TD run and Taylor’s 26-yarder was a Maysonet 4-yard run to the end zone.
The JV defense, meanwhile, gave up only 9 total yards after the touchdown for C-K (1-2).
“I think our defense is playing so much better than what we were last year,” Smith said.
Game notes: C-K senior running back-defensive back Alex Pant suffered a broken neck in last week’s win over West Branch, but he’s doing well.
“Considering [the injury], he’s very fortunate,” Walter said. “He’s going to be fine. They don’t believe that he requires surgery at this point, but, unfortunately, he’s not going to play football again.”
While not as serious, JV two-way lineman Ryan Fitzgerald injured his knee in the first quarter and was on crutches in the second half.
“It doesn’t look good, but I don’t know,” Smith said. “He’s probably going to have to get an MRI on that.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Claysburg-Kimmel0 0 6 0 – 6
Juniata Valley12 6 0 20 – 38
JV-Claar 23 run (kick failed), 5:43.
JV-Claar 24 run (pass failed), 3:48.
JV-Maysonet 20 pass from Taylor (run failed), 9:28.
CK-Johnson 63 pass from Brown (run failed), 8:41.
JV-Claar 4 run (McMullen pass from Taylor), 10:57.
JV-Maysonet 4 run (kick failed), 6:31.
JV-Gable 26 pass from Taylor (kick failed), 3:56.
RUSHING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Johnson 11-42, Imgrund 5-14, Roudabush 2-6, Brown 7-(-18). Juniata Valley-Claar 19-126, Taylor 11-55, Wagner 7-44, Maysonet 5-32, TEAM 3-(-3).
PASSING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Brown 5-12-0-97. Juniata Valley-Taylor 10-17-0-157.
RECEIVING: Claysburg-Kimmel-Johnson 3-79, Hammel 1-10, Cerully 1-8. Juniata Valley-Gable 3-78, Gildea 2-43, Maysonet 4-35, Claar 1-1.
INTERCEPTIONS: Claysburg-Kimmel-none. Juniata Valley-none.