Karns City's defense, special teams step up
TribLIVE Sports Videos
CLARION — Karns City used two non-offensive second-half touchdowns to beat Chestnut Ridge, 35-29, in the opening round of the PIAA Class AA playoff Friday night at Clarion University's Memorial Stadium.
The District 9 champion Gremlins (10-3) will now take on WPIAL champion Aliquippa in the PIAA quarterfinals next week at a site and time to be announced.
“It feels good,” said Karns City coach Ed Conto about reaching the final eight in the state. “I would have never expected it the way the season went. We are still not a great football team. We have a long way to go. But I am very proud of the kids' character. They fought back and showed a lot of character tonight.”
Karns City, which led, 23-21, at halftime after the teams amassed 451 yards of combined first-half offense, trailed 29-23 nearly halfway through the third quarter after District 5 champion Chestnut Ridge (6-6) opened the second half with a 9-play, 72-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard Jacob Mock touchdown run, Mock's third rushing score of the game. Mock also ran for a game-high 171 yards.
But the Gremlins, who ran just one offense play in the third quarter, used a special team's touchdown and a defensive touchdown to change the game.
“That's big, that's real big,” Conto said about scoring two non-offensive touchdowns in the second half. “If you told me that before the game, I would have told you it's not going to happen.”
Matt Conto answered the Mock score with an 80-yard kickoff return to tie the game at 29-29. It was the second long kickoff return for the Gremlins in the game, but the first that went for a score.
“We practice a lot on our return game,” Ed Conto said. “I think we do a pretty good job with it. I thought special teams would be a swing point in this game.”
Then after Karns City's defense bent but didn't break, and Chestnut Ridge missed a 36-yard field goal late in the third quarter, the Gremlins defense came up with a score after a 50-yard Tyler Kepple punt pinned the Lions inside the 10-yard line.
With starting quarterback Beau Bosch, who ran for 164 yards and a touchdown, on the sideline nursing an injury from the previous play, backup quarterback JD Weyant fumbled a pitch at the Lions' 6 after being hit by Adam Whited, and Christian Turner scooped the loose ball out of midair and returned it for the go-ahead score.
“You've got guys flying around, hustling, and sometimes good things happen,” Conto said. “(Christian) was in the right spot and busted his butt to get into the end zone.”
Karns City appeared poised to put the game away with just more than two minutes to play when Zach Moore, who had a 24-yard field goal in the opening half, appeared to pick up a first down at the Chestnut Ridge 17 that would have allowed the Gremlins to run out the clock. But
the ball was stripped from Moore, giving the Lions one final chance.
Chestnut Ridge drove to the Karns City 35 with a short passing game before a penalty backed the Lions up to the Gremlins' 40. Then on fourth down from the 40, Weyant, playing in the wildcat, tried to hit Bosch, who had come back into the game one play after the Weyant fumble, with a long pass down the near sideline. But Dakota Mohney, who had a 33-yard first-half touchdown Friday night, picked the ball off, ending the game with just eight seconds left.
Chris Rossetti is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pine-Richland falls short in PIAA Class AAAA final
- Close loss in title game cannot diminish Clairton’s ‘great season’
- Clairton falls short vs. Bishop Guilfoyle in PIAA Class A title game
- Through the years: Ken High, Apollo go out in style
- Gorman: Gastion goes deep for Pine-Richland
- Clairton, Bishop Guilfoyle football teams match vaunted defenses
- RB Hayes boosts South Fayette to 2nd straight state title
- High school notebook: Records tumble during PIAA football title games