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Juniata Valley surpasses Purchase Line in second half to move to championship

Written by: on Monday, November 18th, 2019

 

Senior quarterback Jacob Barnett scores Purchase Line’s first touchdown of the night with a one-yard quarterback sneak play as seniors Kyle Day (37), Cullen Goncher (35), Giovanni Scott (52), and junior Isaac Huey (5) signal his score to the Red Dragon fans. TAMMY SCHMITTLE PHOTO

The Purchase Line Red Dragons have surpassed most expectations for this year. After having a rough start against Marion Center and Homer Center, it was never a thought that Purchase Line would make it to the District 6 semifinals. However, with a final score of 31-21, the Red Dragons ended their season with a loss from the Juniata Valley Hornets, November 16. Senior offensive tackle Giovanni Scott said, “We played hard and had a great season. It didn’t end the way that we wanted it to, but we showed what we can do when we play as a team. It has been awesome playing with my brothers over the years, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Juniata Valley came out with a bang, forcing a fumble during the kick off, giving the Hornets the ball back. The Red Dragons’ defense persisted and stopped any offensive movement, while Juniata Valley came back and did the same to Purchase Line on the next series. The first touchdown was scored by senior tight end Grant Musser for 3-yards with less than half of the quarter left. That put the Dragons down by six points and the need to get tied up was indefinite.


The Dragons drove down the field with runs from senior running back Kyle Day and senior fullback Cullen Goncher. The Dragons then took a different approach to running in the form of sophomore running back Jayce Brooks, who went from the 30-yard line to the 15-yard line. Goncher picked up 11 more yards and a few plays later senior quarterback Jacob Barnett snuck in for a 1-yard touchdown with the help of the offensive line and Goncher. As time expired in the first quarter, the score was tied up at 6-6.

The Hornets couldn’t move the ball to start the second quarter so the punt team was sent out. A botched long snap to the punter caused junior Hunter Johnson to run the ball, getting the first down and some extra yards to the 20-yard line of the Dragons. Once again, Purchase Line’s defense stalled this unexpected drive. The offense of the Red Dragons was on fire with this drive and was running all over the linebackers and the rest of the defense. Day maintained control in the back and continued to run everywhere that there was a hole and if there wasn’t one, he made one. Soon after, Goncher found a nicely sized gap up the middle, scoring Purchase Line’s second touchdown with a 10-yard run. Goncher stepped up once again and ran the ball in for the two-point conversion, putting the Dragons in the lead with 14 points to 6.


A three and out for Juniata Valley set Day up for a huge run to the 23-yard line. Two plays later, Day took the ball again and ran through the line and 25-yards for a touchdown. Only around a minute later, Juniata drove down the field, and junior wide receiver Gabe Brower scored as time ran out in the half. The score became a close 21-13 at the end of the half.

Purchase Line’s defense could not find their mark in the third quarter. Whether it was letting Musser receive a 10-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Caden Rupert or allowing a 1-yard burst into the endzone by the same player, the Hornets proved absolutely unstoppable in the third quarter. As for Purchase Line’s offense, there was another struggle. There was an obvious adjustment by the Hornets because they were prepared for Day and Goncher no matter the play. The third quarter ending score was 25-21 with Juniata Valley in the lead.

The same thing happened in the fourth quarter. The Hornets completely dominated all over the field and took control of the entirety of it. Juniata Valley wasted no time with the ball when Musser received another touchdown pass, this time of 5-yards, from Rupert. Although the Dragons continue to play and run on them, in the end it was not enough. The final score of the game was 31-21.

Goncher said, “It’s sad that we ended the season earlier than we would’ve liked, but it was still a great run this year and we made a lot of memories this year. It was a blast for the last four years playing varsity.”

Day came in with 147 yards, leading the team in rushing, with Goncher following with 82. The Dragons had 289 total yards with 15 first downs. Purchase Line says goodbye to 11 seniors who have made the team into what it is. Head Coach Matthew Falisec said, “I am really going to miss the group of seniors that we had this year. They worked hard, pushed each other, and helped get Purchase Line football back on the map. They are a great group of young men, and I will miss each and every one of them.”

Day said, “We played well in the first half and played good defense. They just figured out how to stop us in the second half. I wish the best of luck to the team next year!”

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