Karns City loses fourth in a row to rival Clarion
It took one turnover for everything to unravel for Karns City. The Gremlins stood up to the undefeated Clarion Wildcats for more than four quarters, intercepting two passes and holding their offense to only one touchdown. The only touchdown of the game.
Then, with Karns City driving well into Clarion territory, the Gremlins fumbled the ball. The Wildcats then methodically called 10 straight run plays, running down the clock. The tenth run was a 27-yard scamper into the end zone by Chris McSwain. The run capped a stellar day by the running back, who tallied 242 yards and two touchdowns on 33 carries.
The Gremlins scored with a minute left in the game to pull within six. But the Wildcats recovered the onside kick and easily ran out the clock.
After the game, McSwain said he was warned out.
"I like running the ball, but a more balanced offense will help us down the road. I get a kind of tired," McSwain said.
Karns City (1-4, 0-4) recovered from last week's 51-7 loss to Redbank Valley last week to keep pace with what is considered an even more powerful team - Clarion. The Wildcat (5-0, 4-0) even beat Redbank Valley earlier in the season. The Gremlins posed a greater adversary.
"I felt it was going to be a tough football game," Clarion head coach Larry Wiser said. "They looked like on film to me to be the same Karns City Football team that has been playing the last two or three years."
What haunted the Gremlins through the second quarter and throughout the third was their inability to connect on pass plays. Passes were dropped and overthrown and the Wildcats defended the pass well. After Karns City completed three of its first five passes, the air attack dried up and had only one completion for their next 10 attempts.
The Gremlins got their chances to score earily, but they failed to capitalize. The Wildcats stood Karns City up at the goal line in the second quarter when they stuffed Josh Fiscus inches from the end zone on a fourth down play at the one-yard line.
"We just told our D-line to just dig down and start pushing, not to give up any ground and thats what we did," McSwain said. "It was a big defensive stand."
The turnover on downs was significant turning point for Clarion. The Wildcats would mount a 13 play, 99-yard drive with McSwain getting 71 of the yards. The final yard was a fourth down and goal at the one that the runningback powered into the end zone.
In the second half, Clarion did was worked best in the first half - give the ball to McSwain...a lot. McSwain had 33 carries in the game with 19 of the carries coming in the second half. The second half was also where the running back accumulated 144 yards of his rushing total.
"We have a big offensive line and they just push guys out of the way," McSwain said when asked to assess his performance on the 99-yard scoring drive. "I just run right through the holes. Its not much on my part. They are a good group of guys."
"He is a heck of a runner," Wiser said. "He is 190 pounds of pure power. He is a talent."
As a team, the Wildcats compiled 310 yards rushing.
Following McSwain's 27-yard touchdown run, the Gremlins were able to put together a successful scoring drive set up mainly by four straight pass completions and a pass interference call that put the ball at the Clarion 34 yard line. The drive was capped by quarterback Stephen Black's 36-yard touchdown pass to his brother David Black. The quarterback finished nine of 19 for 174 yards and a touchdown.