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Back-to-Back! Karns City Shakes Off Shaky Start, Pulls Away in Fourth Quarter against Ridgway to Win Class 2A Title Again

BROCKWAY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — It was not the kind of start the Karns City football team was hoping for.

The Gremlins were uncharacteristically careless with the football, committing three first-half turnovers and clung to a 13-7 lead at the half against Ridgway in the District 9 Class 2A championship game at Brockway’s Frank Varischetti Field on a frigid Friday night.

(Photos by Stetson Mead)

Ridgway had all the momentum and was driving in the third quarter. But a costly penalty stalled the drive at the Karns City 11 and the Elkers missed a field goal.

Karns City then launched a 17-play drive for a score that chewed up a big chunk of the third quarter and shifted momentum to the Gremlins on the way to a 35-7 win.

It was the second consecutive district title for the Gremlins.

This one, though, was perhaps meant a little more to Karns City.

“I couldn’t be prouder of a group of guys,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “Every (district) title is special, but this team has had to overcome COVID and injuries that we’ve had throughout the season. It was kind of a grind for all of us and this championship is a tribute to the hard work we put in.”

Senior fullback Luke Garing capped the 17-play drive with a 4-yard score with 10:49 remaining in the fourth quarter. He also added the 2-point conversion run that gave Karns City some breathing room at 21-7.

Karns City (11-1) added two more touchdowns in the fourth to put the game away.

“The kids played really well,” said Ridgway coach Mark Heindl. “Obviously when you’re in the District 9 championship game, you have two of bets teams going at it. Karns City capitalized on a lot of things, but our kids battled. We moved the ball. Came out in third quarter drove down to 11 but missed a field goal.”

The Gremlins used their punishing ground game on that long TD drive.

Garing’s emergence, both on offense with 25 touchdowns now this season, and on defense was a big part of Karns City’s championship run.

“Could not be more proud of our guys and our coaches so far this year,” Garing said. “It was amazing going back-to-back with these guys.”

Karns City led 13-0 in the first half thanks to a 34-yard run by Nate Garing and a 1-yard score by Luke Garing.

But Ridgway cut the lead to six with less than a minute remaining in the first half when Domenic Allegretto hit Cam Marciniak for a 16-yard score.

Allegretto assumed the quarterback role after starter Jonathan Hinton tore his ACL in Week 7.

“We had our opportunities,” Heindl said. “We had our chances. Our best defense had to be our offense and we did a pretty good job of that in the first half.”

Karns City’s defense, though, stiffened in the second half and forced two Elker turnovers.

The Gremlins scored 22 points in the fourth quarter to turn a close game into a 28-point victory.

“We executed a little better in the second half,” Sherwin said. “When you play a team for a second time, you just don’t know what they are going to do differently. We kind of figured that all out at halftime and were able to execute better. I think we kind of wore them down as well.”

Despite the loss, Heindl was pleased with how his team competed.

“We never gave up,” he said. “Sometimes losing at certain things in life builds you for down the road. These guys have a bright future ahead of them.”

So does Karns City.

The Gremlins will now move on the to PIAA Class 2A playoffs. Karns City will square off against either City League champion Westinghouse or District 10 champion Farrell next week. Westinghouse and Farrell play Saturday.

“If you have to practice on Thanksgiving Day, you know you’re doing some good things,” Sherwin said.

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