Early Turnovers Sink Football To Second Defeat

The football team suffered their second loss in a row on Saturday, Sept. 14 when they fell to visiting Juniata Eagles 37-14. A much-improved Juniata team jumped out to a 27-0 lead before the Red Devils could put any points on the board, largely due in part to three costly Dickinson turnovers in their own territory.

Quarterback Cole Ahnell ’15 scored on a seven yard run before the end of the first half. In the third quarter, tight end Todd Smolinsky ’14 caught a 15-yard touchdown pass. Running back Shawn Wilson ’16 rushed for 104 yards on the day, highlighted by a 48-yard run in the second quarter that set up Ahnell’s touchdown run.

The Red Devils’ defense forced Juniata to punt on their opening possession, but a Dickinson fumble on their own 26-yard line lead to a Juniata touchdown, scoring on a quarterback sneak from the 1-yard line. On the ensuing kickoff, the Red Devils coughed the ball up again on their own 16-yard line, giving the Eagles another very short field. However, the defense stood their ground and held Juniata to only a field goal, keeping the score at 10-0. Five plays later, the Red Devils turned the ball over again when Ahnell threw an interception. Again, the defense stepped up and gave the team a boost when they needed it, holding Juniata to just another field goal. The Red Devils were then forced into back-to-back punts on their next two possessions. The Juniata offense did not slow down when given the ball, scoring two more touchdowns on two 70+ yard drives to stretch the lead to 27-0 in the second quarter.

After forcing Juniata to punt from just outside their own endzone, the Red Devils capitalized on their great field position. With just under two minutes to go in the half, Ahnell led the Red Devils on a 5-play, 58-yard touchdown drive. Ahnell scampered in from seven yards out to make the score at halftime 27-7 Eagles.

The Red Devils went 3-and-out on the first possession of the second half. In the third quarter, Juniata picked up right where they left off, capping a 59-yard drive with another field goal, making the score 30-7. The Red Devils answered with their best drive of the game. Starting at their own 33-yard line, the Red Devils methodically moved down the field into Juniata territory. Wide receiver Colin Rodgers ’14 caught a 33-yard pass to move the ball into the red zone. After two runs by Wilson, Ahnell connected on a beautiful pass and catch with Smolinsky for a 15-yard touchdown.

Juniata quarterback Ward Udinski answered right back, leading the Eagles on another long touchdown drive and again scored on a 1-yard QB sneak to tally the final points in the game, making the score 37-14. In the fourth quarter, the Red Devils drove the ball deep into Juniata territory, led by the rushing of Wilson and Cedric Madden ’16. After reaching the Juniata 5 yard line, the Red Devils failed to convert on fourth down and turned the ball over on downs.

Safety Jake Meyers ’16 and linebacker Michael Miller ’14 each tallied 11 tackles to lead the Dickinson defense. Connor Thompson ’15 added 10 tackles of his own, including half of a sack.
The players were frustrated with the outcome but realize there is plenty of season left. “We had a slow start and turned the ball over a few times to start the game. We dug ourselves a hole early on and could never really climb out of it. We’re a young team and have a lot to work on, starting this week against Susquehanna,” said Smolinsky.

With the loss, the Red Devils fall to 0-2 on the season, and 0-1 in the Centennial Conference. Their next game is on Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1 p.m. when they will travel to face Susquehanna University, a team Dickinson deafeated 17-14 last season.