By: Jennifer Jones
Director of Sports Information
email@example.com • juniatasports.net
HUNTINGDON, Pa. – The Juniata College football team unleashed its arsenal against Thiel College Saturday afternoon as the Eagles walked away with the 41-20 win in their season opener at Knox Stadium. This marks the second consecutive year Juniata football has opened with a win.
"It's always good to get off to a [good] start," said third year head coach Tim Launtz. "I think that really puts a positive tone on everything and set the standard for the rest of the year. We are very happy to win the first one."
Junior Ward Udinski (Doylestown, Pa./Central Bucks West) had a career game to start the season. The captain finished with five touchdowns and over 400 yards of total offense. He had game-highs in both rushing and passing yards. Udinski's 339 passing yards and three passing touchdowns were career-highs. He completed 16-of-23 with zero interceptions and sacks. Freshman Aaron O'Brien (York, Pa./York Catholic) has benefitted from Udinski's accuracy. He finished with a team-best 117 receiving yards including an 84-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
"Ward is, he is just a football player," said Launtz. "He just loves to play the game of football. He extends plays, he makes plays, [he] is a lot of fun to watch."
Juniata's defense, led by senior captain Kevin Gorman (Waverly, N.Y./Waverly Central), dominated Thiel for most of the game, allowing just seven points in over 50 minutes of football. Gorman set new career-high marks in tackles and sacks in the win. He finished with game-highs of 14 tackles, nine solo, including three sacks.
Also setting career-highs was senior Greg Nixon (Baltimore, Md./Baltimore Poly). He finished second on the team in tackles with nine, a mark still higher than the Tomcats leading tackler, and earned his first sack. Juniata as a team put Thiel's quarterbacks in the turf 10 times for a loss of 41 yards, a team record under Launtz.
"[The] defense plays so well as a team," added Launtz. "They just came out there today and wanted to take control of things and I thought they did a really good job of that."
Juniata hits the road to open Centennial Conference play next. The Eagles face Dickinson College on Saturday, Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. in Carlisle, Pa. This is the 25th meeting of the two programs. The Red Devils lead the all-time series 16-8 but Juniata is hoping to break the streak.
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