Karns City ends the Wildcats' season

Central Clarion offensive linemen Kolten Bradley (No.64) , Kaoz Baker (No. 67), Kaleb Kiehl (No.56) and Ian Hagen (No. 78) lead the way for Ryan Hummell’s 1-yard touchdown plunge.

Karns City ends the Wildcats' season

The Gremlins upended Central Clarion 35-7 in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals

By Ryan S. Pugh

CLARION NEWS Sports Editor

KARNS CITY

When Central Clarion went on the road to face Karns City in Week Three of the regular season, the Gremlins piled up 317 yards rushing on the way to a 37-13 win over the Wildcats.

In the words of Yogi Berra, it was deja vu all over again for Central Clarion Friday night in at Karns City in the District 9 Class 2A semifinal.

The Gremlins totaled 363 yards on the ground and romped to a 28-0 halftime lead on the way to a 35-7 win over the Wildcats.

Much like in the first matchup between the teams, Karns City's Luke Garing did most of the damage on the ground rushing for 172 on 20 carries with two touchdowns.

"We tried switching (defensive) fronts, we tried about everything we could and we couldn't stop (Karns City) from getting big chunks of yardage," Central Clarion head coach Davey Eggleton said. "They were getting four or five yards every play and they were content on doing it and there was nothing we could do to stop it."

For Karns City head coach Joe Sherwin, piling up yards on the ground is nothing new for his team.

"(Running the ball) has kind of been our thing the whole season," Sherwin said. "We want to be able to continue that. We want to be able to control the ball offensively."

The first time the teams met, Central Clarion was mired in the middle of a four-game losing streak but the Wildcats rallied for four-straight wins to earn a playoff spot. Sherwin knew the team he was facing in the playoffs was a different animal than the squad his team faced in the regular season.

"I have to give coach Eggleton a lot of credit," Sherwin said. "(Central Clarion) had a rough start to the year but really turned it around and was playing some really good football. We were concerned about that so we knew we had to be at the top of our game to be able to win tonight."

Karns City (10-1 overall) opened the game with an efficient eight-play, 57-yard drive which was capped by an 8-yard TD run by Garing.

The Gremlins did not attempt a pass on the drive with Garing gaining 21 yards on the ground while Jayce Anderson totaled 27 yards rushing on the march.

Zach Kelly booted the extra-point to give the Gremlins a 7-0 lead with 8:28 left in the first quarter.

The Wildcats responded to the Gremlins opening drive with a march of their own moving from the Central Clarion 30 to the Karns City 12. Ryan Hummell opened the drive with a 15-yard rush and later in the march, Central Clarion quarterback Jase Ferguson connected with Christian Simko on passes of 11 and 9 yards to convert on a pair of third-and-longs. Ferguson also connected with Ashton Rex for an 11 yard gain which gave the Wildcats a first-and-10 at the Karns City 20.

The Gremlins stopped Breckin Rex for no gain on first down but Hummell ripped off a 7-yard run on second down. Breckin Rex was stopped for a 1-yard gain on third-and-3. On fourth-and-2, Ferguson took the snap, drifted left and tried to find a hole in the Gremlin defense for a quarterback run but Karns City swarmed to Ferguson and dropped him for a 2-yard loss giving the ball back to Karns City on downs.

"We moved the ball really well that first drive and I'll probably and it's one of those things where I will second-guess that (fourth down play) call," Eggleton said. "I thought the play was there, and we just kind of missed the hole a little bit and Karns City did a nice job of blowing (the play) up."

Sherwin also felt the Gremlins' fourth down stand was an important sequence in the contest.

"I think (that stop) was super important," Sherwin said. "If (Central Clarion) goes in and scores there, it's 7-7 and they would have had the momentum and it could have been a whole different game."

The Gremlins responded with a 14-play, 86-yard march where Karns City gained all but 15 yards on the drive on the ground.

Anderson capped the march with a 5-yard run.

Karns City quarterback Eric Booher did attempt one pass on the drive which fell incomplete. However, the Wildcats were whistled for interference on the play giving the Gremlins a first-and-10 at the Central Clarion 17.

Anderson gained 13 yards on the drive while Garing picked up 44 yards on the march.

Booher also had a 17-yard quarterback keeper on the drive.

Kelly's PAT kick extended the Karns City lead to 14-0 with 7:40 left in the first half.

On the subsequent drive, Central Clarion went to the air with Ferguson connecting on consecutive passes of 5-yards to Breckin Rex to give the Wildcats a first-and-10 at the Gremlin 41. However, two plays later, Ferguson attempted a pass down the middle intended for Ashton Rex which was picked off by Karns City's Micah Rupp.

The Gremlins converted the turnover into points six plays later when Garing did his best Marshawn Lynch impression bowling over a number of Central Clarion tacklers on his way to the end zone for a 50-yard touchdown run.

Kelly tacked on the extra-point stretching the Karns City lead to 21-0 with 3:25 left in the half.

On the following drive, the Wildcats went three-and-out as Ferguson threw three incomplete passes and Central Clarion was forced to punt.

In retrospect, Eggleton feels he might have given up on the run prematurely.

"It's hard when you get behind against a team like Karns City because you know they are going to grind the clock and I'll take the blame because I hit the panic button and had us trying to throw the ball too much," Eggleton said. "We could have been more patient trying to get back into it but against a Karns City team, you are only going to get so many opportunities with the ball and we had to make them count."

It took the Gremlins just three plays to get to the end zone with Booher connecting with a wide-open Rupp for a 38-yard touchdown.

A key play on the march was a 24-yard run by Booher. When Booher was tackled on the play, his facemask was tugged by a Central Clarion defender and the Gremlins had a first-and-10 at the Central Clarion 38.

Booher attempted just three passes in the game connecting on two for 46 yards and a TD.

Kelly booted the PAT to extend the Karns City lead to 28-0 with 1:37 remaining in the half.

Central Clarion went three-and-out on the following possession and the Wildcats punted.

The Gremlins were content to take their 28-0 lead into the break.

Karns City outgained Central Clarion 274 to 64 in the first half with Karns City converting 13 first downs while the Wildcats had five first downs.

Central Clarion opened the third period with a three-and-out and the Wildcats were forced to punt.

It looked like the Gremlins might reach the 35-point ‘mercy rule' margin plateau as Karns City moved into Central Clarion territory behind a 14-yard run by Anderson. However, the Gremlins fumbled on the very next play and the Wildcats' Kaoz Baker pounced on the loose ball.

The Wildcats converted the turnover into points as Central Clarion put together a 70-yard, 10-play drive capped by a 1-yard plunge by Hummell.

Ferguson opened the drive with a 22-yard pass to Ashton Rex.

Ashton Rex was Ferguson's favorite target as he hauled in six passes for 72 yards.

On the very next play the Gremlins were flagged for pass interference putting the Wildcats in Karns City territory.

Ferguson got the Wildcats into scoring position with his legs as he had a run of 7 yards that gave Central Clarion a second-and-goal at the Karns City 1. Ferguson was stopped for no gain on a quarterback sneak. On the net play, the Wildcats offensive line got a good push allowing Hummell to reach the end zone.

Charlie Franchino booted the extra-point to trim the Karns City lead to 28-7 with 3:41 remaining in the third quarter.

The Gremlins answered the Central Clarion TD march with a 12-play, 55-yard drive capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by Anderson.

The Gremlins gained all of their yards on the drive on the ground with Garing gaining 47 while Anderson had six.

Anderson also had a 23-yard touchdown wiped away by a holding penalty.

Kelly converted the extra-point to swell the Karns City lead to 35-7 with 9:50 remaining in regulation.

Cooper Coyle sealed the win for Karns City when he intercepted Ferguson on Central Clarion's following drive. The Gremlins ground down the rest of the clock to seal the 35-7 win.

Karns City will take on Ridgway Friday (Nov. 19) in the District 9 Class 2A championship game to be held at Brockway's Frank Varischetti Field at 7 p.m.

The Wildcats close their season with a 4-6 record. Central Clarion opened the season with four-straight losses but rallied for four-straight wins to secure a playoff berth.

"The adversity these guys have been through this season and kept pushing through, I just can't say enough about how proud I am of them just for that reason alone," Eggleton said. "It would have been easy for them to pack it in after our losses to Brookville and St. Marys. It would have been easy for them to give up on the season and start thinking about basketball or wrestling but they didn't. They kept coming to practice every day and they were working hard at practice."

KARNS CITY 35 , CENTRAL CLARION 7

Central Clarion 0- 0- 7 -0 7

Karns City 7- 21- 0 -7 35

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

KC Luke Garing 8 run (Zach Kelly kick), 8:28

Second quarter

KC Jayce Anderson 5 run (Kelly kick), 7:46

KC Garing 50 run (Kelly kick), 3:25

KC Micah Rupp 38 pass from Eric Booher (Kelly kick), 1:37

Third Quarter

CC Ryan Hummell 1 run (Charlie Franchino kick), 3:41

Fourth Quarter

KC Anderson 2 run (Kelly kick), 9:50

TEAM TOTALS (Central Clarion; Karns City)

First Downs: 11; 21

Rushes-Yards: 21-46; 53-363

Passing Yards: 104; 46

Comp-Att-Int: 12-24-2; 2-3-0

Total Yards: 150; 409

Penalties-Yards: 4-50; 6-55

Fumbles-Lost: 0-0; 2-1

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Rushing Central Clarion, Ryan Hummell 5-27, Breckin Rex 7-2, Jase Ferguson 8-36, Team 1-(-19). Karns City, Jayce Anderson 10-62, Eric Booher 7-66, Luke Garing 20-172, Cooper Coyle 4-25, Luke Cramer 4-14, Micah Rupp 1-2, Nate Garing 5-24, Team 2-(-2).

Passing Central Clarion, Jase Ferguson 12-24-2 104. Karns City, Eric Booher 2-3-0 46.

Receiving Central Clarion, Ashton Rex 6-72, Christian Simko 2-20, Breckin Rex 2-4, Ryan Hummell 2-8. Karns City, Micah Rupp 1-38, Jayce Anderson 1-8.

FRILLS CORNERS - An impromptu "Turn Back the Clock" night was held Thursday (Jan. 20) at North Clarion High School for the sole purpose of slowing down a potent Redbank Valley girls' basketball team and even though the Bulldogs were made uncomfortable, in the end Redbank Valley continued its…

CLARION TWP. - When two rivals get together on the basketball floor, anything is possible so it should come as no surprise it took two overtimes to decide the outcome when the Clarion boys' team visited Clarion-Limestone Friday night (Jan. 21).

KNOX - Due to illness, the Keystone boys' basketball team was unable to play or hold practice for a little more than two weeks but if the Panthers suffered any rust from the prolonged shutdown, it didn't show.

CLARION - There would have been no shame for the Clarion Area girls' basketball team to come up short in their KSAC crossover against visiting Moniteau Friday night (Jan. 14) seeing as how the Bobcats had two consecutive games postponed and Clarion was taking on the Warriors under the direct…

COUDERSPORT - The Clarion and Redbank Valley wrestling teams traveled to the county seat of Potter County last Saturday (Jan. 8) for the Coudersport Duals. Each team wrestled five matches; the Bobcats posting a 2-3 record and the Bulldogs going 3-2.

FRILLS CORNERS - It's been a number of years since the Union High School girls' basketball team was a force in the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference and District 9 but on Thursday night (Jan. 6), the Golden Damsels announced their return.

CLARION TWP. - Rebuilding the Clarion-Limestone girls' basketball team has been a long and arduous process for Lions' head coach Gus Simpson but if C-L's game Dec. 22 is any indication, the Lions' rebuild is nearing completion.

FRILLS CORNERS - In a year where the KSAC Small School landscape is in a state of flux, the North Clarion boys' team made a statement they might be the team to beat when it is all said and done.

CLARION - What the 2021-22 Clarion boys' basketball team lacks in experience they make up for in heart as was evidenced Friday night (Dec. 17).

CLARION - The 2021-2022 Clarion wrestling team is young and lacking any veteran grappler with a postseason pedigree. Despite this, head coach Lee Weber enters this year's campaign optimistic; he has almost a full squad, which should make the Bobcats more competitive in duals than the squad t…

The Golden Damsels struggled from the field down the stretch of a 46-39 setback to Elk County Catholic

Redbank Valley's bid for a PIAA Class A title falls shy with a 21-14 loss to Bishop Guilfoyle in the championship final

Today (Dec. 9), the Redbank Valley football team will be attempting to do something no District 9 football team has ever done; win a state title.

WHEELING, W.Va. The Golden Eagle volleyball team's historic 2021 season came to a close on Thursday night (Dec. 2), as fifth-seeded Clarion fell to fourth-seeded Edinboro 3-1 (25-19, 19-25, 20-25, 18-25) in the opening round of the NCAA Atlantic Regional. Clarion (22-10) took the first set a…

PITTSBURGH - Maybe the perfect quote to sum up the Redbank Valley football team's 2021 season would be, "Mighty oaks from little acorns grow."

CLARION - It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas at Clarion University's Memorial Stadium Friday night (Nov. 26) as the snow was falling at a healthy clip and even though there was no tree or tinsel, the Redbank Valley football team got what they were wishing for.

EAST STROUDSBURG The Golden Eagle volleyball team claimed the third Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) championship in program history on Saturday afternoon, defeating top-seeded Gannon 3-0 (25-14, 25-19, 25-17) at East Stroudsburg's Koehler Fieldhouse. It is the Golden Eagles' fi…

MECHANICHSBURG - To win a state title is special in itself but to win two in a row puts a team in rarified air.

CLARION - Redbank Valley's bid for a second-straight District 9 Class A title was at a crossroads late in the Bulldogs' title tilt with Union/A-C Valley as Redbank Valley was tied at 21-21 with the Falcon Knights and faced a fourth-and-11 at the Union/A-C Valley 21 but the Bulldogs' Tate Min…

SLIPPERY ROCK - For about a half an hour Tuesday night (Nov. 16), the Clarion Area High School volleyball team looked like they were in serious trouble as WPIAL champ Bishop Canevin went on a 9-3 run to take a 20-14 lead in Game One of the PIAA Class A semifinals but in the end, the Bobcats …

SLIPPERY ROCK - You'll have to excuse the Clarion Area High School volleyball team if they weren't awed by the PIAA quarterfinal stage on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 13) at Slippery Rock Area High School but the Bobcats have been here before.

RIMERSBURG - For three-straight years, the Union/A-C Valley football team was close to breaking into the playoff win column but the Falcon Knights always seemed to fall short.

KNOX - Familiarity plays a significant role when it comes to a team's comfort on a playoff stage which is what likely aided the Keystone High School volleyball team in their District 9 Class 2A semifinal against Karns City.