BROCKWAY, Pa. – Karns City’s big men up front dominated the trenches as the Gremlins pulled off the biggest upset of the D9 season, defeating Brookville 16-14 to win the D9 Class AA Championship.
(Kaden Scherer rushed for 86 yards in the win. Photo by Jared Bakaysa)
The previously unstoppable Brookville offense finally met their match, as Karns City was able to get a considerable pass rush without neglecting their coverage. The Gremlins defense allowed only 44 yards of offense in the second half, an immense performance from a defense that was eager to make a statement after their blowout loss to Brookville earlier in the season.
Brookville led 14-13 after three quarters, and the Raiders had two possessions deep in Gremlins territory with a chance to ice the game. On both occasions, Karns City’s defense came up huge, denying Brookville the chance to score the decisive touchdown. The Gremlins then took possession of the ball with 3:00 left, drove down the field, and set up the game winning 27-yard field goal courtesy of Owen Colwell.
Luke Gering was the workhorse for the Gremlins offense, rushing for 62 yards on 16 carries. Kaden Scherer ran for 86 yards on four carries, including an explosive 65-yard touchdown run. Cole Coon also rushed for 74 yards for a Karns City team that only completed one pass all night for three yards. Brookville was led by Jack Krug, who threw for 168 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Robert Keth caught seven passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, while Charlie Krug had five catches for 68 yards.
The game started out poorly for the Gremlins, who fumbled the football on the opening possession. Brookville quickly made Karns City pay for their mistake, as Jack Krug connected with Keth for a 19-yard touchdown on a fourth and long play. A missed PAT made the score 6-0 Brookville.
Karns City then used their running game to enter Brookville territory, but their drive fizzled out as quarterback Eric Booher was stuffed on a fourth down run. Brookville then had their own opportunity to find paydirt, tossing their way over the Gremlins’ defense. Karns City came up with a key turnover to end the drive, forcing a Krug fumble to get the ball back early in the second quarter. Soon after, Scherer took a pitch and sprinted down the left side of the field, using tremendous blocking and exceptional speed to score a 65-yard touchdown. A converted PAT put the Gremlins up 7-6 with 8:26 left in the half.
Not to be outdone, the Raiders went on a tear, taking control of the game and throwing their way down the field. Keth put the finishing touch on the drive with a two-yard touchdown run, his second score of the game. Keth also pounded in the 2-PT conversion, giving Brookville a 14-7 lead with just over 5:00 left in the first half.
The score would remain 14-7 at halftime, as a series of messy drives limited offensive progress. The Gremlins managed to pick off Krug, but Karns City’s scoring efforts were marred by penalties and poor offensive rhythm.
The second half began as the first half ended, with stagnant offense. Early on, the Gremlins forced a quick three and out, but then fumbled the ball back to the Raiders. A solid defensive effort from Karns City quickly earned them the ball back, and a stellar punt return had the Gremlins knocking on the door, taking possession inside the Raiders’ 30 yard line. With 1:02 left in the third quarter, Luke Gering slammed in for a touchdown from one yard out, highlighting the Gremlins’ dominance in the trenches. Unfortunately for Karns City, a poorly run fake extra point attempt left them one point down, trailing 14-13 as the third quarter came to a close.
The fourth quarter was dominated by the Gremlins’ defense, who came up big in the most important quarter of Karns City’s season. After the Gremlin’s relentless pass rush produced a quick stop, the defense was called into action again after Brookville forced a fumble on the ensuing punt return. Starting the next drive deep in Karns City territory, Brookville turned to the running game in an attempt to jumpstart their struggling offense. Karns City was fit to the task, stuffing Keth on both a third-and-two and a fourth-and-one run to regain possession.
After a three and out, Brookville had great field position yet again as they looked to score a touchdown or erode the remaining five minutes left on the clock. A huge fourth down sack by Karns City was the highlight play of the night, as two Gremlins burst through the line and slammed Krug down for a vital sack, giving Karns City one last chance to take the lead.
The grinding Gremlins running game pushed them into Brookville territory, as Coon and Gering alternated powerful, violent runs, blasting through the formidable Brookville front line. On a key fourth down play on Brookville’s own 20 yard line, the Gremlins opted for a different approach, using Scherer’s speed to gain the edge and first down yardage. Three plays later, the Gremlins called a timeout with nine seconds remaining to set up the game-winning field goal attempt, with the championship falling on the foot of kicker Owen Colwell. Colwell split the uprights with room to spare, putting the Gremlins up 16-14. A last-ditch Brookville play came up well short, securing the Gremlins the D9 Class AA title in a shocking 16-14 upset.
The Gremlins will next play the winner of District 10’s title game, at a time and place to be determined. Congratulations to Karns City, the Class AA Champions!