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Green Hornets get solid effort from trio in victory

ALEXANDRIA – Juniata Valley opened its defense of its District 6 Class 1A football championship in impressive fashion Saturday night.

Senior running backs Gabe Brower and Ryann Betres, along with senior quarterback Caden Rupert, served as the catalysts in an explosive Green Hornets’ offensive attack that churned out 441 yards as third-seeded Valley mercy-ruled sixth-seeded Homer-Center, 41-6 in a quarterfinal-round playoff game at A.R. Simkins Field.

Brower rushed for 116 yards on 11 carries and caught four passes for 71 yards, including a 4-yard scoring pass from senior fullback Grant Musser.

Betres rushed for 112 yards on 10 carries and opened Valley’s scoring with a 39-yard touchdown run off right tackle in the first quarter, while Rupert completed 10 of 15 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown, and also rushed for another score, as Valley advanced to next week’s semifinal round against Purchase Line.

Play(s) of the game: Juniata Valley turned the game in its favor by scoring two quick touchdowns just over two minutes apart late in the second quarter, stretching a 7-0 lead to 20-0 at intermission. A 51-yard pass play from Rupert to Brower paved the way for Musser’s 1-yard touchdown run, and a fumble recovery by Jake Johnson on the ensuing kickoff set up Rupert’s 16-yard touchdown pass to senior wideout Jacob Hensor.

Player(s) of the game: Brower and Betres were equally heavy contributors.

Unsung hero: Musser accounted for three touchdowns for Valley, scoring on a pair of 1-yard runs, and also throwing the scoring pass to Brower.

Most vital statistic(s): Along with Valley’s 441 yards of total offense, Homer-Center also turned the ball over four times, including three on fumbles.

Juniata Valley coach Bill Musser: “I’m very happy with our kids, I’m very happy with their effort from start to finish. Even though we struggled in the first quarter, we continued to fight.”

Homer-Center coach Greg Page: “Juniata Valley is a very fine football team. Tip your hat to them. They were the better team. They made the plays. They made it happen.”

Brower: “We were able to run the ball all night. They couldn’t defend our sweeps. We just ran hard, and the key to the game was getting the ball to the outside and letting our blockers do the work for us.”

Betres: “I thought Homer-Center came out and played really well at the start, but our players just overcame that and put their whole hearts into the game.”

Bill Musser on his team’s offensive line play: “They continue to work extremely hard, and they continue to persevere.”

Bill Musser on his team’s defensive play: “I’m proud of the way those guys are playing together as one unit, and gang-tackling.”

Notable: Rupert scored on a 1-yard run late in the fourth quarter for Valley, which also got an interception from Hensor and fumble recoveries from Bryant Allison and Johnny Foster … Homer-Center had its first three drives stall at the Juniata Valley 33, 30, and 24.

Records: Homer-Center finished its season at 7-5. Juniata Valley improved to 9-2.

Next week: Juniata Valley hosts Purchase Line (8-4) in a semifinal game next Saturday night. Purchase Line upended second-seeded Portage in a quarterfinal game Friday night.

Bill Musser on the Purchase Line matchup: “Purchase Line is really going to test us next week. We had better be ready to play.”

SCORE BY QUARTERS

Homer-Center 0 0 6 0 — 6

Juniata Valley 7 13 7 14 — 41

First Quarter

JV–Betres 39 run (Hill kick), 4:58.

Second Quarter

JV–G. Musser 1 run (Hill kick), 2:22.

JV–Hensor 16 pass from Rupert (kick failed), 2:08.

Third Quarter

HC–Kochman 5 pass f rom Schmidt (pass failed), 5:35.

JV–G. Musser 1 run (Hill kick), 3:10.

Fourth Quarter

JV–Brower 4 pass from G. Musser (Hill kick), 9:13.

JV–Rupert 3 run (Hill kick), 5:18.

TEAM STATISTICS HC JV

First downs 16 23

Total yards 259 441

Rushes-yards 41-108 34-277

Yards passing 151 164

Passing (comp.-att.-int.) 15-13-1 11-16-1

Punts-avg. 4-39.2 3-31

Fumbles-lost 5-3 1-1

Penalties-yards 7-46 3-45

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING–Homer-Center, Walbeck 18-74, Schmidt 13-23, Rowland 2-8, Mock 4-7, Troup 3-1, McCoy 1-(-5). Juniata Valley, Brower 11-116, Betres 12-110, Rand 2-33, J. Johnson 2-21, G. Musser 3-4, Rupert 2-(-2), Carolus 2-(-5).

PASSING–Homer-Center, Schmidt 15-31-1-151. Juniata Valley, Rupert 10-15-1-160, G. Musser 1-1-0-4.

RECEIVING–Homer-Center, Kochman 6-107, Mock 6-29, McCoy 2-8, Daugherty 1-7. Juniata Valley, Brower 4-71, Hensor 3-36, G. Musser 2-25, H. Johnson 1-29, Giles 1-3.

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