SAXTON - Juniata Valley landed the first blow in its much-anticipated toe-to-toe matchup with county rival Tussey Mountain Friday night.
But, thanks to their outstanding backfield tandem of senior Darrin Sipes and junior Daniel Taylor, the Titans didn't stay on the ropes for very long.
Sipes accounted for three touchdowns by hauling in scoring passes of 70 yards in the second quarter and 27 yards in the third quarter from junior quarterback Quinn Barnett, before running 11 yards to paydirt in the fourth quarter.
While Sipes rushed for 125 yards on 13 carries, Taylor ran for another 120 on 12 tries, including scoring runs of 63 and 17 in the second quarter, as Tussey posted a resounding 42-13 Inter-County Conference Silver Division victory on the Tussey Mountain Sports Complex field.
The Titans improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the division despite spotting Valley (4-3, 3-1) a 7-0 lead after one quarter.
Tussey coach Josh Smith felt that Sipes and Taylor were both successful in running to the wide side of the field.
"They were kind of our 1-2 punch tonight,'' Smith said. "Our game plan was to attack the edges more tonight, and those guys did a heck of a job. We got punched in the mouth on the first drive of the game, but we fought back.''
Valley opened the scoring on senior quarterback Caleb Taylor's 17-yard run off left tackle midway through the first quarter.
Tussey answered with three second-quarter touchdowns to take command, 21-7 at intermission. Sipes got behind the Valley secondary to haul in the 70-yard scoring pass from Barnett 20 seconds into the second quarter, and Daniel Taylor bolted up the heart of the field on his 63-yard touchdown run two and a half minutes later.
After Barnett hit senior wideout Dylan Park with a 29-yard pass later in the quarter, Daniel Taylor ran 17 yards up the middle with 1:41 left in the half to give Tussey a stronghold.
"It was a tough matchup,'' Daniel Taylor said about facing Juniata Valley. "Our line made some great holes for our running backs to go through. It's all starting to work together for us.''
Sipes, a state medalist track sprinter, thinks that he and Taylor complement one another well in the Titans' backfield.
"It's definitely a great combination,'' Sipes said. "He's more of a shifty runner, and I'm more of a power runner. We have a solid offense, and we keep getting better every single week.''
Valley coach Mike Smith was disillusioned with his team's defensive performance as the Hornets yielded 427 yards to Tussey in total offense.
"They have good backs, but defensively, we didn't play well,'' Smith said. "We knew they were going to run the buck sweeps tonight, but we couldn't stop them. Our kids on defense need to learn to read their keys.''
Valley - which got 170 yards rushing from senior fullback Jesse Claar - was actually within striking distance in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, when senior running back Caleb Wagner bolted 3 yards to pull the Hornets to within 27-13.
But Tussey responded with a 79-yard scoring drive that Sipes capped off with his 11-yard run around left end 5:40 before the finish to put the game on ice.
Senior fullback Kyle Kline's 17-yard scoring run with 1:26 left provided the icing for the Titans.
Game notes: Friday's game was homecoming with Ashlyn Black named queen and Wyatt Brumbaugh named king.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata Valley7 0 0 6 - 13
Tussey Mountain0 21 6 15 - 42
JV-C. Taylor 17 run (Taylor kick), 6:31.
TM-Sipes 70 pass from Q. Barnett (Wentz kick), 11:40.
TM-D. Taylor 63 run (Wentz kick), 9:10.
TM-D. Taylor 17 run (Wentz kick), 1:41.
TM-Sipes 27 pass from Q. Barnett (pass failed), 6:13.
JV-Wagner 3 run (kick failed), 11:53.
TM-Sipes 11 run (Taylor pass from Q. Barnett), 5:40.
TM-Kline 17 run (Wentz kick), 1:26.
RUSHING: Juniata Valley-Claar 30-170, C. Taylor 10-33, Maysonet 2-10, Singer 1-5, Wagner 5-4. Tussey Mountain-Sipes 13-125, D. Taylor 12-120, Kline 6-33.
PASSING: Juniata Valley-C. Taylor 11-22-1-111. Tussey Mountain-Q. Barnett 4-8-0-149.
RECEIVING: Juniata Valley-Maysonet 5-37, Claar 3-43, Singer 2-19, Gildea 1-12. Tussey Mountain-Sipes 3-120, Park 1-29.
INTERCEPTIONS: Tussey Mountain-Q. Barnett.