Tigers shut out by Eagles on sloppy field

HERNDON – Line Mountain wasted little time putting its game plan into action against East Juniata during a Tri-Valley League football matchup Friday.

The sloppy field conditions on account of rain could have played a role, but Eagles coach Rodney Knock likely is not complaining.

The Eagles used their run game extensively to shut out East Juniata, 22-0, to close out their second consecutive shutout after blanking Halifax last week.

“We’re a grind-it-out team,” Knock said. “(The field) definitely worked into our favor tonight.”

The Eagles’ stout defense helped to establish the first scoring drive of the game after stopping the Tigers’ David Brantley on a fourth-down run late in the first quarter near midfield.

“(Our defense) has been playing well all year,” Knock said. “We have the potential to play solid defense like that every week.”

Early in the game, the Tigers used an unbalanced formation with most of their line bunched on the left side with the quarterback and running back behind a few blockers in the middle of the field. But despite the unorthodox look, the Eagles were not fooled, stopping the Tigers from running in space.

Taking over at midfield, the Eagles used their run game to gain space in the passing game.

After one first down, a holding penalty from the Tigers’ 40 seemed to stall the drive as the Eagles quickly faced a third-and-19 from the Tigers’ 49.

However, Knock had a different look up his sleeve to keep the drive moving.

With wide receiver Justin Michael under center, Knock sent quarterback Ryan Reed out of the huddle as a wide receiver.

In single coverage down the right sideline, Michael connected with Reed for a first-and-goal from the nine.

Two plays later, Reed called his own number and found the end zone for a four-yard score early in the second quarter. Cory Warford added the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead.

Each defense tightened for the remainder of the first half with one combined first down in the final nine minutes.

Line Mountain brought the ball deep into East Juniata territory at the 25-yard line on its opening drive of the second half, buoyed by a 51-yard kick return from Cameron Newman to open the half.

A fumble ended the drive with a turnover but Line Mountain shook off any effects of the turnover, forcing a quick three-and-out to regain possession.

Almost exclusively using Warford and Reed, Line Mountain drained the clock with a 13-play, 72-yard drive to push its lead to 16 with 1:49 left in the third quarter.

The Tigers nearly kept the game within a score once the Eagles pushed the ball inside the five.

After two runs with nowhere to go out of the backfield, Knock called a timeout, staring at a third-and-five from the five in a one-score game.

Whatever message Knock gave to his team worked, as Warford hurdled his way into the end zone.

Throughout the game, an inability to catch the ball proved to be the Tigers’ undoing.

“Dropped passes killed us in the second half,” East Juniata coach Simon Cameron said.

The Tigers had a chance to put a drive together midway through the fourth quarter, benefiting from a diving catch by Kevin Allen.

However, three straight incompletions after a three-yard pass gave the ball back to Line Mountain with a two-score lead and 5:15 to melt off the clock.

Six straight runs from Warford brought him over the 100-yard mark as he finished with 112 on the ground and the third-quarter score.

Kyle Rebuck punched the ball in after Warford worked the ball down to the two.

Brantley tried to rally his team from three scores down in 1:21, escaping pressure and scrambling for a first down, but the run was the final time the Tigers moved the chains.

Three incompletions and a short run gave the ball back to Line Mountain in victory formation.

The Eagles nearly scored on their first drive as a Warford touchdown was called back due to a holding call and the Tigers defense stood tall in the red zone to keep the game scoreless.

East Juniata (2-5, 1-5) hosts Upper Dauphin Oct. 18.