Juniata clipped by Cardinals
PINE GROVE – Pine Grove had already wrapped up a Tri-Valley League championship and clinched at home game for the opening round of the District 11 Class AA playoffs.
A perfect regular season was all that was left for the Cardinals to get Friday night.
They have that now, too.
Ryan Heim ran for a season-high 352 yards and four touchdowns to lead Pine Grove to a hard-fought 26-6 victory over Juniata in a Tri-Valley League contest at Cardinal Stadium.
The victory caps what a remarkable turnaround for the Cardinals, who have gone from 1-9 in 2012 to earn their second undefeated regular season in program history.
Heim had touchdown runs of 48, 91, 21 and 17 yards to best his previous season high of 287 yards against Upper Dauphin on Sept. 21. He now has 2,035 yards rushing on the year
Heim also set school records for overall touchdowns in a season with 29 – he has an interception return for a score earlier in the year – and rushing touchdowns with 28.
“We just used last year as motivation,” Heim said. “We needed to prove to everyone that we were better than that. I am really proud off all these guys.”
Heim had 152 yards rushing after his first three carries.
He went around right end for a 48-yard touchdown on his second carry of the game. The next time he touched the ball on the Cardinals’ next possession, he went over the left side through a huge hole, made a cut to the outside 5 yards into the ran and outran the defense to end zone for a 91-yard touchdown.
It appeared at that point that the game was going to be a rout. But the Indians (4-6, 4-5 TVL) kept battling, despite losing Chad Eberle to what appeared to be a collarbone injury midway through the second quarter after he was tackled by Steve Zimmerman for an 8-yard loss.
The game was delayed for 20 minutes as Eberle was taken off the field on a stretcher and then to a hospital.
“We always have trouble with them,” Pine Grove coach Jeff Sampson said of Juniata. “Their kids are so tough and so gritty and they just keep coming.”
Heim added a 21-yard touchdown run in the third quarter on a swept left. Juniata responded with its best offensive possession of the night. The Indians put together a 10-play, 72-yard drive, capped off by a four-yard touchdown run by Chantz Swartz.
But Heim struck once again and sealed the victory with 1:40 left in the game, scoring from 17 yards out on a run up the middle, and spinning away from a tackle at the 10. It capped off an eight-play, 55-yard drive, all Heim runs.
Heim’s numbers are the direct result of play of the offensive line this season of guards Scott Werner, and Brennan Farell, tackles Ryan Vuksta and Eric Flick, and Martin at center. Farell was a new starter this season.
Tyler Clark was 10-for-21 passing for the Indians for 167 yards. But he was also sacked four times as Zimmerman and two and Mark Weinus and Jesse Fisher one each. Jared McCabe also picked off two passes, his final one the with under a minute left in the game.