KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Christian Coudriet listened to his accomplishments.
The five touchdown passes.
The 407 yards.
The game-winning, 72-yard drive he led with precision in the final moments of the game.
Then, the senior quarterback for the St. Marys football team grinned.
“Yeah,” he said. “It was a pretty good night.”
A good night, indeed, on a chilly October Friday evening when the Dutch needed it the most in a 35-28 road win over Karns City in a game that went back and forth, momentum swinging like a pendulum.
“They’re so even-keeled,” said St. Marys coach Chris Dworek. “They’ve been through a lot. Heck, these seniors have been through a lot in their four years of playing, so it’s all those experiences coming together and just learning how to handle it.”
Early, it looked like St. Marys (5-1) was going to roll against Karns City (5-1) in a showdown of District 9 Large School teams. The Dutch built a 14-0 lead on the strength of two touchdown passes from Coudriet — a 5-yard hookup with Logan Mosier on their opening drive, and a 30-yard strike to Collin Reitz late in the second quarter.
Up until the final minute of the first half, Karns City had just 69 yards and three first downs.
But the Gremlins marched 93 yards in a little more than a minute. Jayce Anderson gashed St. Marys with a 29-yard run. Eric Booher hit Micah Rupp on a 41-yard pass and then Booher bulled his way into the end zone from 8 yards out with just 16 seconds left before halftime to give Karns City a big lift going into the locker room.
“That was huge,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “It was a big momentum builder going into the half, and we needed a little spark at that time.”
The momentum carried over into the second half. Karns City wasted little time finding the end zone again with fullback Luke Garing plowing in from the 2. The extra point was wide and the Gremlins were still down 14-13.
But St. Marys had Coudriet and an offensive line that was protecting him well.
Coudriet had plenty of time in the pocket and sometimes went to the third or fourth target in his progression before pulling the trigger.
“He’s a quality quarterback — there’s no doubt about that,” Sherwin said. “We didn’t get much pass rush against their offensive line. That makes it a little harder on our defensive backs covering the guys a little bit longer than what they maybe should. When you have to cover for that long, he’s gonna find people.”
And find people, Coudriet did.
He found Carter Chadsey for a 9-yard touchdown to put St. Marys up 21-13.
After Rupp hauled ion a 19-yard pass from Karns City quarterback Eric Booher for a touchdown and Garing added the 2-point conversion to tie the game at 21-21, Coudriet found Mosier streaking down the seam for a 70-yard touchdown pass.
Instead of kicking the extra point, Dworek decided to go for the 2-point conversion. It failed — and it almost came back to bite St. Marys.
“We have some good 2-point plays,” Dworek said. “It was a mathematical thing. We have some good plays, and I thought go up by eight and put even more pressure on them there.”
Instead, the pressure was on Coudriet after Karns City pulled ahead 28-27 following a long, methodical, 10-play, 69-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard run by Garing.
It wasn’t methodical or long enough, however, even though Sherwin and his coaching staff thought about trying to milk the clock even more than they did.
“We actually brought that up, but you can’t play cautious,” Sherwin said. “I said, ‘Nah, let’s just go.”
Karns City’s defense needed a stop, but the Gremlins just couldn’t get it.
Coudriet was 5 of 7 for 64 yards on the final 72-yard drive. He hit Chadsey in the corner of the end zone from the 4 with two Karns City defenders draped on him for the game-winning score with 35 seconds remaining.
“We work on that in practice,” Coudriet said. “Our receivers stepped up. Our offensive line stepped up. Everyone stepped up.”
Karns City has been a thorn in St. Marys’ side over the years. Two years ago, the Gremlins went up to St. Marys and won, 55-20. Three years ago in Karns City, the Gremlins rolled, 53-14. This was only the second win for the Dutch in the last 17 meetings against Karns City dating back to 2005.
“They’re a great program, that’s why,” Dworek said. “We could play them in the middle of Interstate 80 and it’s going to be tough. They’re always tough. Whenever you beat Karns City, it feels extra special because of that.”
Coudriet was 25 of 37 for 407 yards. He completed passes to five different receivers with his younger brother, Charlie Coudriet, leading the way with seven receptions for 106 yards.
Booher also had a good night passing for Karns City. He was 11 of 19 for 168 yards. Rupp had six catches for 115 yards.
Garing paced the Karns City ground game with 67 yards on 15 carries. Anderson added 58 yards on 10 attempts.
Sherwin believes his team can gain something valuable from this loss.
“I told the guys, you know, it’s kind of crazy thinking, but whenever you get a loss like this, it’s sometimes helpful. You can learn from the mistakes you made. Sometimes you don’t find your mistakes until you get into a game like this.”