Walstrom Jr. relishes win over Hornets
ALEXANDRIA – Gary Walstrom Jr. never won at Juniata Valley as a player, but in his first trip as Glendale’s coach, he came away a winner.
“This means a lot to this program,” Walstrom Jr. said. “I had never won here before, and that just speaks to how good Juniata Valley is when it comes to football, but to come down here and get a win is the most important win of our season so far.”
It wasn’t easy for the Vikings (3-5), who can finish at .500 with wins in their final two games (at Bellwood-Antis and home against Marion Center). Glendale managed just six first downs and 140 total yards but held on for a 14-7 win at A.R. Simkins Field Friday when the Hornets fumbled a punt in the final minute.
After both teams exchanged early turnovers, Ray Carlheim blocked a Hornet punt and set Glendale up at the Juniata Valley 8-yard line. On third down, Vikings quarterback Jon Rojas bought time on a roll out and found 6-foot-5 wideout Shea O’Donnell for a score. O’Donnell ran in the two-point conversion, and Glendale held its 8-0 lead into the half.
“I had to improvise on most of the plays tonight, but we have good enough players who can make things happen for us,” Rojas said. “Our line did pretty good tonight, and we’re going to need an effort like that against Bellwood next week.”
Glendale held Juniata Valley to just 43 yards in the first half, and 29 of those game when Sam Singer connected with Bryce Hensor on a screen pass.
Singer couldn’t handle a bad snap with 5:43 left in the third quarter, and the Vikings took over at the 24-yard line. Ten seconds later, Rojas connected with Anthony Barnhart on a 21-yard score to make it 14-0.
Rojas finished with 41 yards passing and led all rushers with 76 yards on 15 carries.
“(Rojas) worked real hard and watched a lot of film,” Walstrom Jr. said. “He just keeps on fighting. He’s pretty athletic, and he did really well for us tonight.”
Nate Braniff collected Glendale’s third interception of the night with 4:42 to play, and it seemed to seal the game. But Juniata Valley’s defense held the Vikings out of the end zone, and with 3:31 left, the Hornets got the ball back. Just a few seconds later, they were on the board.
Singer found Conner Shook on a crossing route, and he broke it outside for an 85-yard score.
“These kids have proven to be pretty resilient,” Juniata Valley coach Bill Musser said. “They don’t get too down or too high, but we have a lot of young kids who showed a lot of excitement and heart tonight.”
The Hornets (1-7) nearly recovered an onside kick following the score, but it bounced off a Hornet’s fingertips.
Glendale failed to gain a yard on the ensuing possession, however, and had to punt it back to Juniata Valley with 1:22 left.
But following the theme of the night, the Hornets fumbled the punt for their fifth turnover of the game, and the Vikings ran out the clock.
“They kept pressure on us all night,” Musser said. “They kept bringing it right up the center and kept us well contained on the outside. It made us more one dimensional than we wanted to be and took us out of our game.”
Walstrom Jr. told his squad he was proud of them following the game but that they’d have to clean up several mistakes in order to upset Bellwood-Antis next week.
“We’re still playing well at times and then not playing well other times,” Walstrom Jr. said. “It’s the story of the season. We have to come in Monday and keep fighting if we’re going to beat Bellwood.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Glendale8 0 6 0 – 14
Juniata Valley0 0 0 7 – 7
G-O’Donnell 4 pass from Rojas (O’Donnell run), 1:19.
G-Barnhart 21 pass from Rojas (run failed), 5:33.
JV-Shook 85 pass from Singer (Hess kick), 3:09.
RUSHING: Glendale-Rojas 15-76, Braniff 11-15, Hommer 5-16, Hewitt 3-(-1), Sacolic 1-(-5), TEAM 2-(-2). Juniata Valley-Mills 10-19, Hess 7-11, Maysonet 5-4, Singer 6-(-17), TEAM 1-(-7).
PASSING: Glendale-Rojas 3-9-0-41. Juniata Valley-Singer 5-14-3-123.
RECEIVING: Glendale-Barnhart 1-21, Hommer 1-16, O’Donnell 1-4. Juniata Valley-Shook 1-85, Maysonet 3-4, Hensor 1-29, Mills 1-5.
INTERCEPTIONS: Glendale-Kuhn, Shultz, Braniff. Juniata Valley-none.