NEWPORT-Juniata football's defense, which has been struggling of late, looked more like its old self during the Indians' 34-7 Tri-Valley League win over Newport Friday.
Juniata's defense held Newport to just one touchdown and allowed only 160 yards as the Indians cruised back to .500 with the win.
And Newport had to scratch and claw to gain each and every one of those yards.
The game started clearly in Juniata's favor. The Indians' first drive began on Newport's 46-yard line, and the boys only handled the ball three times before Neil Bodley took a 10-yard run into the end zone for the first score of the night. But credit the defensive line for getting Juniata the ball in the first place - Newport began the game with possession of the ball on its own 35-yard line, but Juniata's defense came out firing, and after the ball had been handled only three times, the Buffaloes fumbled and Juniata's Blake Ramsey jumped on it to give his team the possession that led to its first touchdown.
"The defense came through tonight," Juniata coach Gary Klingensmith said. And Klingensmith certainly was right - counting the Indians' first touchdown, three of Juniata's five scores were directly related to strong defensive play.
In the second quarter, Scott Sneath scored for the Indians after teammate Tyler Hershey gained possession for his team on another Newport fumble. Hershey was instrumental in getting his team the ball again in the third quarter, when after breaking through Newport's line for two consecutive sacks, Hershey helped force a Newport punt.
Joshua Newcamp then scored for the Indians on the ensuing drive to make the score 34-0.
Newport quickly responded with a touchdown of its own, but it was the only touchdown the Buffaloes were able to score the entire night.
If Juniata's defense was responsible for gaining possession of the ball, Juniata's offense really followed through on the scoring end.
Bodley, Newcamp and Scott Sneath all scored touchdowns for the Indians, but Bodley was the offensive standout of the night. He was responsible for three touchdowns and rushed for a total of 209 yards.
Bodley's rushing, combined with a strong showing from the rest of the offense, resulted in 424 total yards for the Indians, 416 of which came on the ground.
"We haven't been able to be proficient with the pass," Klingensmith said. "But with Bodley on the run and the other running backs carrying the ball we did well."
But as pleased as Klingensmith was with his team's offense, he was especially glad to see the way his defense played.
"Neil did a great job, but we're most proud of how the defense played," Klingensmith said.
The only notable defensive slip up on Juniata's part was after Newport scored. And this touchdown was scored only after the Buffaloes figured out that their passing game was working better against Juniata's stifling defense than their rushing game.
After nearly three quarters of rushes cut short by the Indians' defensive line, Newport put two long passes together, the second of which was a 48-yard hookup between Justin Temple and Jordan Clegg which resulted in the lone score for the home team.
"We needed this win, and we got it. I'm proud of the boys," Klingensmith said.
Juniata (2-2, 1-2) travels to Beaver Springs to face East Juniata Sept. 28, the first meeting between the two schools since 1996.