KARNS CITY MAKES KSAC STATEMENT
|By Jonathan Shaffer
KARNS CITY - It was a record-breaking game in many ways when the Clarion Bobcats traveled to Karns City Friday night in a showdown of the Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference's elite teams.
By the end of the game it was the first time Clarion had lost a regular-season KSAC game since 1998, as Karns City defeated the Bobcats 41-12 to gain sole possession of first place in the conference.
The Bobcats (3-1 overall, 2-1 KSAC) found themselves in unfamiliar territory for most of the game, as turnovers and big plays victimized Clarion.
For starters Karns City dominated in almost every statistical category from total yards (407-153), total rushing yards (231-130) and total passing yards (176-23).
"Physically, we weren't winning the line of scrimmage from the first play of the game," Clarion coach Larry Wiser said. "Karns City took it to us. It was just a good butt-whipping."
Meanwhile Clarion's Kyle Cathcart gained only 88 yards on 27 carries (off from his sparkling 11.1 yards per carry coming into the contest), while the Bobcats completed just two pass.
Clarion had won 21 straight regular season games and 19 straight KSAC games going into the contest. Its last regular season and conference loss was to Clarion-Limestone 19-6 on October 30, 1998.
Also, Karns City's 41 points were the most points Clarion had allowed since November 6, 1998 when Smethport defeated the Bobcats 53-14 in the first round of the district playoffs. The 41 points are 20 more points than Clarion allowed all of the 2000 regular season.
"We can benefit from the loss by how we grow from it," Wiser said. "That will be the real key, how we come back Monday and how we react to what this is. We weren't at the top of our game, and we need to go back and do things right, get back to basics."
There were many contributors to the Gremlins (4-0, 4-0) dominating performance, with Billy Graham rushing for 119 yards on 15 carries including a 24-yard touchdown run.
Junior quarterback Erik Fuhrer, who has fought injuries for most of the young season, shined by going 7-for-11 passing for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver and backup quarterback Ian Ferguson caught five passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and also threw for a score.
"A couple of their big runs definitely helped out their passing game," Wiser said. "I was disappointed in our tackling tonight. To Karns City's credit, they knocked us off the ball, but were flat.
"I'll take responsibility (for what happened). I just seemed to be just one defense behind. They were moving the ball through the run and the pass very well."
Karns City came out strong by finding the endzone on its first two possessions. The Gremlins received the opening kickoff and scored at the 10-minute mark, just two minutes into the contest, on a 24-yard touchdown run by Graham.
The ensuing kickoff ended up being a sign of impending misfortune for the Bobcats. On the kickoff, Clarion's Corey Corbett returned the ball 11 yards before losing a fumble. Karns City's D. J. Black picked up the loose ball, and the Gremlins were back in business at the Clarion 30 without the Bobcats offense having touched the field yet.
Three plays later, Fuhrer ran into the endzone from 25 yards out, as the Gremlins had a 14-0 lead with 8:59 remaining in the first quarter.
The lead proved to b disastrous for a Clarion team who had played just last Monday at Union. Against Union the starters had played over three quarters in the Bobcats' 33-0 win.
The Bobcats tried to score with seconds left in the first quarter but were stopped on a fourth-and-seven at the Karns City 14.
Karns City expanded its lead to 21-0 early in the second frame on a 43-yard touchdown run by Matt Carnahan with 10:09 left.
Clarion responded about midway through the quarter when Cathcart ran the ball for a 27-yard touchdown on fourth-and-one, as the Bobcats trailed 21-6 with 5:49 left.
The Bobcats had a chance to cut the deficit even more before halftime but could not generate any offense nor run time off the clock.
The failed possession allowed Karns City to score with 1:21 left in the half on a 16-yard Fuhrer-to-Ferguson TD pass that made the halftime score 28-6.
Karns City's aerial attack continued to roll in the second half, as Fuhrer found Ferguson on a 24-yard touchdown pass with 4:23 left in the third.
With Karns City up 34-6 going into the fourth quarter, Ferguson relieved Fuhrer at the quarterback position and hooked up with Brian Hilderbrand on a 17-yard touchdown pass with 10:53 left in the contest. The Gremlins tacked on the extra point making the score 41-6 and putting the mercy rule into effect.
It marked the first time since the mercy rule was enacted that it took effect against Clarion.
The Bobcats tacked on a touchdown with 41 seconds left in the game, as backup quarterback Andy Craig found Greg Larson in the endzone for an 8-yard touchdown. But the touchdown could do little to take the away the sting the Bobcats endured in the contest.
Clarion will host backyard rival Clarion-Limestone on Autumn Leaf Friday at 7 p.m. in a KSAC battle for bragging rights and with major playoff implications. The Lions will enter the contest with an identical 3-1, 2-1 record.
"There is no question this game is going to be a big ballgame," Wiser said. "It will have a lot of playoff implications with who will represent us in the (Class) A playoffs."
The game will mark the 30th meeting between the bordering schools since 1972, with Clarion possessing a 16-13 series advantage.
Clarion 0 6 0 6 12
Karns City 14 14 6 7 41
Score By Quarters
KC - Billy Graham 24 run (Beau Rattigan kick) 10:00
KC - Erik Fuhrer 25 run (Rattigan kick) 8:59
KC - Matt Carnahan 43 run (Rattigan kick) 10:09
C - Kyle Cathcart 27 run (B. J. Roth kick no good) 5:49
KC - Ian Ferguson 16 pass from Fuhrer (Rattigan kick) 1:21
KC - Ferguson 24 pass from Fuhrer (Conversion failed) 4:23
KC - Brian Hilderbrand 17 pass from Ferguson (Jeremy Welter kick) 10:53
C - Greg Larson 8 pass from Andy Craig (Roth kick no good) :41
First Downs 8 17
Rushes - Yards 43-130 34-231
Passing Yards 23 176
Passes: Comp-Att-Int 2-6-1 10-15-0
Total Yardage 153 407
Punts - Average 5-29 1-20
Fumbles-lost 2-1 3-2
Penalties - Yards 3-15 4-35
Rushing - Clarion: Kyle Cathcart 27-88 1 TD, Matt Watterson 12-38, Ben Bevevino 2-2, Andy Craig 1-2, Jason Reed 1-0. Karns City: Billy Graham 15-119 1 TD, Matt Carnahan 6-73 1 TD, Mike Stitt 4-7, Erik Fuhrer 3-8 1 TD, Ian Ferguson 2-14, Brian Hilderbrand 2-12, Jim Frazer 1-3, Brian Reed 1-(-5).
Passing - Clarion: Ben Bevevino 1-for-5, 15 yds., 1 INT. Andy Craig 1-for-1, 8 yds., 1 TD. Karns City: Erik Fuhrer 7-for-11, 152 yds., 2 TD. Ian Ferguson 3-for-4, 24 yds., 1 TD.
Receiving - Clarion: Greg Larson 1-8 1 TD. Karns City: Ian Ferguson 5-119 2 TD, Brian Hilderbrand 3-50 1 TD, Joe Callihan 1-16, Billy Graham 1-(-9).
Punting - Clarion: Kyle Cathcart 5-145 (29.0). Karns City: Brian Reed 1-20 (20.0).
Punt Returns - Karns City: Brian Hilderbrand 3-31, Ian Ferguson 2-10
Kick Returns - Clarion: Corey Corbett 3-24, Will Lewis 1-12, Jason Reed 1-0. Karns City: Ian Ferguson 4-86.
Fumble Recoveries - Clarion: Brian Luton - 1, Greg Larson - 1. Karns City: D. J. Black - 1.
Interceptions - Karns City: Brian Hilderbrand -1.