Late TD catch secures title for Karns City
Karns City junior wide receiver Dakota Mohney made nicer catches this season, but none mattered more than his final reception Friday night in the District 9 Class AA championship at Clarion University's Memorial Stadium.
Mohney bobbled a pass from Tyler Kepple a bit before he gained control for a 9-yard game-deciding touchdown with 12 seconds left in the top-seeded Gremlins' 33-27 win over No. 2 Kane. Karns City claimed its first title since 2009 and its ninth overall.
“It just bounced off my chest and into my legs, but I knew I had to catch it for him,” said Mohney, who finished with two catches for 29 yards.
“I bumped it back up on my knee and made sure I had it. It was a scary catch, but I wanted D9 for the seniors and for everybody from Karns City.”
With the win, the Gremlins also earned a spot in the PIAA tournament. Karns City (9-3) trailed, 20-12, at halftime and cut the deficit to two points in the third.
It took a 26-20 lead over Kane (7-4) on Zach Moore's 42-yard touchdown run with 6:30 left in the game, but the Wolves answered with a five-play touchdown drive that included a 55-yard completion from Sean Jordan to Jack Kocjancic. Jordan scored on a 1-yard touchdown sneak, and Sean Rolick's kick gave Kane a 1-point edge with 3:58 left.
Karns City dealt the final blow, though, as the Gremlins marched 65 yards in 15 plays to win.
Quarterback Tyler Kepple completed five of six pass attempts during the drive, including a 9-yard pass to Adam Whited on fourth-and-3 at Karns Citys' 42-yard line. The Gremlins also converted on fourth-and-1 at Kane's 40.
The clutch play in the final quarter stood in contrast to the other three quarters for Karns City, which twice turned the ball over inside the Kane 10 in the third. The Gremlins also had a fumble in the first quarter in Kane territory.
“They're always sweet, but there definitely was a lot of anxiety in this one,” Karns City coach Ed Conto said. “You're happy when you win the game. You're upset when they do things wrong. It's great when you can put something together at halftime, the kids listen and they come out and perform.”
Kane's offense might've capitalized on more of Karns City's mistakes if the Wolves had senior running back Jonah Smith in the second half. But Smith, who rushed for 94 yards on 11 carries through two quarters, suffered an ankle sprain and was forced out.
The Wolves still managed to move the ball with Jordan, who completed 21 of 27 pass attempts for 290 yards and two scores, and the quarterback's two favorite targets, Rolick (11 receptions, 159 yards, two touchdowns) and Kocjancic (eight receptions, 126 yards).
“Obviously (Smith's) a huge part of our offense,” Kane coach Todd Silfies said. “We talk about being a balanced team, and that kind of throws us off balance a little bit. But I thought our guys responded well.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.