Tigers woes continue in TVL loss

MILLERSBURG – When East Juniata Coach Simon Cameron speaks about momentum, he knows what he is talking about.

The Tigers invaded Millersburg Friday night, intent on destroying the hopes the Indians had of winning their homecoming game, also their senior night.

And East Juniata was actually in a close tilt, down by a close 14-6 with six tenths of a second to go before the half.

Then the unthinkable happened.

With that fraction of a second to go, and the Indians on their own 39-yard line, quarterback Christian Wingard dropped back, evaded the Tiger pass rush and launched a beautiful pass to Mark Simpkins. Simpkins made the catch and hauled an East Juniata defensive back over the goal line to give Millersburg a 15-point lead at the intermission.

The pass broke the will of the Tigers, who gave up two consecutive one-play scoring drives in the second half en route to a 41-6 loss on the road.

“We are pretty deep in the depth chart right about now,” Cameron said. “This is high school football and in high school its all about momentum.”

East Juniata had the momentum early. After missing a field goal try on the first possession of the evening, the Tigers marched right back on their second possession. With Colton Snook and Mason Hambright leading the way on the ground, East Juniata found themselves with a second down on the 33-yard line of Millersburg.

Tiger quarterback Reed Bruner gunned the ball over the outstretched fingertips of Millersburg’s secondary and Kevin Allen made a nice over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone. The PAT kick was blocked, but the Tigers had a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.

After a nice kick return by Austin Lehman gave the Indians the ball at the Tiger 45-yard line, a methodical drive ended in Connor Keim’s seven-yard burst for a touchdown. Wingard’s kick made it 7-6 Millersburg and the Indians would not relinquish the lead.

Wingard completed just seven out of 11 attempts, but managed to rack up 281 yards of passing. He hit two consecutive pass attempts in the second half for 64 and 62 yards, respectively, both scoring plays. The first went to Alex Frederick and the second to Austin Lehman.

“No question momentum hurt us there,” Cameron said. “We have a lot of young kids and they didn’t step up. Millersburg did.”

Hambright was a bright spot for the Tigers. The freshman played tailback and quarterback for East Juniata. He rushed for 69 yards on 14 carries and was 2-for-2 in the passing game.

East Juniata (2-7) has now dropped its last seven games after opening 2-0. Despite that, the Tigers were still at least theoretically in the running for the final District 4 Class AAA playoff spot until Friday, when the loss, combined with Jersey Shore’s upset of No. 1 Milton, cinched the spot for the Bulldogs.

East Juniata will close out at home against Williams Valley Nov. 1.