By Charlie Miller, Staff Writer
Gettysburg Football got off on the right foot on Saturday when they beat the Juniata Eagles by 20 points in a strong performance. The Bullets punished the Eagles for leaving the Centennial Conference, as they attacked them with a strong balanced rushing and passing attack.
The Bullets gained 243 yards on the ground, while quarterback Rocco Abdinoor ’26 threw for 220 yards and two touchdowns. The sophomore earned Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors after the victory against the Eagles. Gettysburg now has six straight wins against Juniata, one of the inaugural members of the new Landmark Conference.
Gettysburg put together a nice 1st quarter, holding a 10-0 advantage as Abdinoor hit key passes to set up two drives that resulted in a field goal and touchdown, respectively. Juniata responded with a score after a Bullet turnover, but wide receiver Walle Harwigsson Lundblad ’26 snatched the momentum from the talons of the Eagles. He returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to the house in a game-changing play. Lundblad earned Centennial Conference Special Teams Player of the Week honors deservingly, as the Sweden native returned three kickoffs for 118 yards, and added five grabs for another 75. Certainly, the Bullets would have no problem if Lundblad could break out and perhaps be a nice compliment to wideout Ryan McAndrew ’24. McAndrew was the Bullets leading receiver last season.
However, Juniata would not go quietly, driving 75 yards to make it a three-point game before the half. It was uncertain how this Bullet team would respond, as now the Eagles finally grasped momentum heading into the locker-room, no doubt with the thought of breaking their six-game losing streak to their old Centennial Conference foes. It would certainly be sweet to come into Gettysburg on opening weekend and spoil the fun in the form of an upset. Gettysburg, however, would not be denied.
Abdinoor responded with an impressive 75-yard drive, highlighted by some key third down conversions, and extended the Gettysburg lead to 23-14 on a pass to James McCarren ’26. The Bullets nearly made it 30-14, but a long touchdown run by Abdinoor was waived off on an illegal blindside block, much to the dismay of the Bullet faithful in the stands, and Gettysburg settled for a field goal. The teams traded scores, with Gettysburg scoring immediately after a nice punt-return by Luke Denison ‘’26, and a 28-yard toss from Abdinoor to McCarren. However, Abdinoor put the nail in the coffin with a drive headlined by several nice runs, including a 41-yard scamper that showed his true dual threat ability.
Abdinoor showed prowess on the ground during his freshman year, and his improvements through the air were on display Saturday. He is a weapon that could prove to be lethal to Centennial Conference defenses, as the emergence of the passing game could open up even more of a ground game for the Bullets. Abdinoor commented on earning the CC honors, as he admitted that it felt “great to be recognized by the conference, but it is a team game.”Abdinoor praised his teammates, pointing to the “blood, sweat, and tears” that he and his teammates have put in in the offseason.
Abdinoor invoked a mantra heralded by another Pennsylvania college football program, insisting that his team is focused on going “1 and 0 every play, every day.” Gettysburg will take on Montclair State on Saturday, September 9th, in the team’s first ever matchup, as Abdinoor and the Bullets look to build on their strong performance.