By: Jennifer Jones
Director of Sports Information
email@example.com • juniatasports.net
Photo: JD Cavrich Photography
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – It's homecoming weekend for the Juniata College football team and the Eagles are hungry for another game on their home turf. Juniata hosts Muhlenberg College on Saturday, Oct. 26 for a noon kickoff in its first game at Knox Stadium in three weeks. The Eagles (4-2, 3-2 Centennial) are currently tied for fourth in the Centennial Conference with Muhlenberg. Saturday's winner will move to 4-2 in conference and into sole possession of fourth or a potential tie for third place.
Juniata football is playing in its 66th homecoming game in school history. Homecoming began in the 1946 season and Juniata has played the annual game every year since except twice, 1957 and 2010. The program has an all-time homecoming record of 35-29. The Eagles are looking to win their first homecoming game since 2006. This is the first time the Muhlenberg and Juniata have met for the event.
This is the eighth meeting of the two programs since they began competing in 1926. Juniata has yet to defeat the Mules, but scored the most points it ever has in their last meeting. Muhlenberg has been ranked once during their series and has averaged over 34 points against Juniata. The Eagles had their best defensive display against the Mules in 2009 when they held them to just 14 points.
The Juniata football team left itself in a perfect position to come back against Muhlenberg, but were unable to catch the Mules in the second half and eventually fell 35-14. Juniata, who trailed 14-7 at the half, dropped to 1-6 with the loss while Muhlenberg improved to 5-2. Ward Udinski(Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) threw for a game-high 209 yards and rushed for both of the Eagles touchdowns. He leads the team in passing yards with 1,653 and is tied for the lead in total rushing yards with Zach McCaulley (Bellwood, Pa./Bellwood-Antis) at 265. On the defensive side,Noah Walstrom (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) finished with a game and season-high 10 tackles, nine of which were solo. He leads the team with 51 total tackles this year and has 1.5 tackles for a loss of 13 yards. Jonah Plymire (York, Pa./Central York) continued to produce for the special teams. He punted for 233 yards in the game, averaging 38.8 yards per punt. His longest on the day was 48 yards.
Respect the Game
Junior Ward Udinski was named Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week (Oct. 20) after leading the Eagles to a 28-7 upset of league rival Ursinus College. It was his third time this season garnering the honor. The 6-3 , quarterback had a hand in all four of Juniata's touchdowns. He had a career-high 421 yards of total offense, threw for three touchdowns and ran another one in on a career-long 49-yard scramble.
Racking up the Honors
For the second time this season, senior Brandon Felus (Columbia, Pa./Columbia) was named to the D3football.com Team of the Week. The defensive tackle recorded seven tackles, six solo in the 28-7 upset of Ursinus. He had four tackles for a loss of 18 yards and two sacks.
Juniata ranks top 10 nationally in three different categories. They lead the country in blocked kicks allowed and blocked punts allowed. The Eagles also rank ninth in team pass sacks averaging 3.83 per game.
Eagles Earn National Rankings
There are five Eagles currently ranked top 30 in the nation with special teams making a strong showing. Jonah Plymire is 20th in punting, junior Isaiah Slutter (Hawley, Pa./Wallenpaupack Area) ranks 21st in kick returns, and junior Ken Kysor (Port Allegheny, Pa./Port Allegheny) is 22ndin field goals per game. Brandon Felus has the highest ranking at ninth in the country for pass sacks. And Ward Udinski is top 30 in five categories: points responsible for per game (17th), points responsible for (19th), passing TDs (25th), total offense (28th), and passing efficiency (29th).
Juniata in the Centennial
Juniata ranks top three in the Centennial Conference in five different categories: pass offense, rushing defense, pass efficiency, sacks by, and sacks against; and are also top five in 12 other categories. Three Eagles lead the league in their respective categories: Ward Udinksi (total offense), Isaiah Slutter (kick return average), and Ken Kysor (field goals).
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