Football loses in finale vs. Juniata

BY JUSTUS STURTEVANT, SPORTS EDITOR

The Susquehanna football
team lost its season finale 44-35
to Juniata on Nov. 15, falling to
2-8 on the season.
The Crusaders had several
chances to come back late in the
game, but freshman quarterback
Nick Crusco threw three interceptions
in the final five minutes
of the game, and the Eagles
were able to hang on for their
fifth win of the season.
Junior linebacker and captain
Jim Barry recognized the
growth of his team this season
despite the loss.
“The trophy game against Juniata
was a tough loss… but the
team has made great improvements
since last year,” he said.
The game was surrounded by
festivities.
Prior to its start, the Crusaders
honored the 20 seniors on
their roster, and the school’s
homecoming court was recognized
during halftime.
Crusco finished the game
26-41 for 289 yards and three
touchdowns. However, his three
late interceptions proved costly
for the Crusaders.
In his final collegiate game,
senior running back Ian Richardson
rushed for 140 yards on
19 carries.
Junior wide receiver Kwane
Hayle caught six passes for a
team-high 117 yards.
He also hauled in two touchdowns
and returned a kick 83
yards for a touchdown.
The game started poorly for
the Crusaders, who fell behind
13-0 in the first quarter.
The Eagles scored on their
first possession of the game
when junior running back Deonte
Alston struck from four
yards out to put Juniata up 6-0.
The Eagles added to their
lead seven minutes later on
their second drive of the afternoon.
Senior quarterback Ward
Udinski found sophomore wide
receiver Kirby Breault for a
9-yard touchdown to put Juniata
ahead 13-0.
The Crusader defense managed
to stop the Eagles on their
next two possessions, and with
5:19 left in the half Susquehanna
got on the scoreboard.
Crusco connected with sophomore
wide receiver Jordan
Zezza for a 19-yard touchdown
to cut the Eagle lead to 13-7.
The touchdown reception was
the first of Zezza’s career.
The Eagles responded with a
field goal to push their lead to
16-7, but Hayle took the ensuing
kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown,
slashing the lead down to
two points.
Juniata received the ball with
just 1:24 remaining in the half,
but a good kick return paired
with a Susquehanna penalty set
up an Eagle touchdown just 42
seconds later.
Udinski completed a 25-yard
pass to Alston for the score,
which put the Eagles ahead 23-
14 going into halftime.
The teams combined for 28
points in the third quarter, with
both teams scoring on all of
their possessions.
The Susquehanna touchdowns
came on a 7-yard pass
from senior quarterback turned
receiver Taylor Kolmer to Crusco,
and a 53-yard connection
from Crusco to Hayle.
The Crusaders scored on
their first possession of the
fourth quarter as well to cut the
Eagle lead to 37-35 with over
14 minutes left on the clock.
Juniata responded as it had
all day, marching 68 yards down
the field for a touchdown to push
the lead back to nine points.
The Crusaders were not able
to find the end zone again, due
to several costly turnovers.
The 44-35 victory brought
the Eagles to 5-5 on the season,
while the Crusaders fell to 2-8.
Susquehanna finished ninth
in the Centennial Conference
with a 2-7 record.
Despite the loss of several
key seniors, Barry believes the
team should be competitive in
the years to come.
“This year’s group of seniors
was the most dedicated group
I’ve been around, and they’ve
set a high standard of performance
for next year’s team,” he
said. “Our future looks bright,
with a talented group of young
players and returning starters.”