Kittanning piles up the points in victory over Ford City
If it ends up being the final time Kittanning makes the short trip south to face Ford City in football, the visitors made it a memorable last visit.
The Class AA No. 10 Wildcats piled up 441 yards and scored on every offensive possession in the first three quarters to rout the rival Sabers, 62-27, on Friday for an Allegheny Conference win.
Freshman running back Zane Dudek had scoring runs of 51 and 36 yards. He finished with 137 yards on seven carries for Kittanning (6-0, 5-0). Wildcats junior quarterback Braydon Toy was 8-of-9 passing for 188 yards and two scores, and he also scored on a 20-yard run and a 54-yard punt return.
“It just seems like we're getting better as the year goes along,” Kittanning coach Frank Fabian said. “A lot of those kids were inexperienced at the beginning of the year, and as each week goes by, they seem to get a little more comfortable.”
The Sabers (2-4, 1-4) traded blows with the Wildcats early. Ford City answered Kittanning's opening-drive touchdown with an 85-yard kickoff return touchdown by Cody Peppler to tie the score 7-7.
Ford City was hindered by injuries entering the game, but its coaches went deep in the playbook to keep the contest close.
A 38-yard wide receiver pass from August Mantini to Chantz Schrecengost cut the lead to 20-14 in the second quarter, but that was as close as the Sabers would get.
Schrecengost would add a 72-yard touchdown run late to finish with 164 total yards — 106 rushing — to lead Ford City.
“We've had so many guys out with injuries and eligibility things, and it's hard to play when you're shuffling guys around like that. I've never experienced anything like it in 30 years of coaching,” Ford City coach John Bartolovic said. “But give Kittanning credit. They're doing a great job over there, and I wish them the best of luck in the playoffs.”
The win clinched the first playoff berth in four years for Kittanning, which had strong moments in all three phases of the game. Apart from Toy's punt return, the Wildcats got a 3-yard fumble return touchdown by Kolton Crissman early in the second half.
The Wildcats were penalized five times for 60 yards in the first half. The team also had a turnover on a muffed punt that was recovered by Peppler.
“The two things we addressed in the locker room at halftime were that we had to tackle on special teams and get off the field on third downs,” Fabian said.
As for winning in perhaps the final rivalry game at Ford City, Fabian, a Ford City graduate, had mixed feelings.
“It's bittersweet. Change is inevitable, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy this one. I'm happy for our kids; they've worked hard,” Fabian said.