By Chris Rossetti
CLARION – Going into Friday night’s District 9 Class AA championship game with St. Marys, the Karns City coaching staff thought junior running back Collin Dunmyre was poised to have a big game.
There is no way they could have guessed how big of a game Dunmyre was really going to have.
The 5-foot-8, 145-pound back, who was forced into more duty than usual because of an injury that kept leading rusher Tristan Rhoades on the sideline, ran for a career-best 203 yards and four touchdowns on just 13 carries to lead the Gremlins (10-1) to their third straight district title with a 49-12 win at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium.
“We saw this in practice,” Karns City head coach Ed Conto said. “He looked like he had some fresh legs. One of the coaches said on the way up that he ought to run well tonight with the way he looked in practice. He’s performed well all year. He made some beautiful cutback tonight’s game, and he had some nice open field running.”
Dunmyre scored on second-quarter runs of 28 and 82 yards then added third-quarter runs of 31 and 32 yards to help Karns City blow open a two-point, 8-6, game at the end of the first quarter.
“The big plays they made were the difference,” St. Marys head coach Tony Defilippi said. “A team of their caliber makes those plays.”
Karns City, which won its sixth title in eight years, its eighth in Conto’s 15 years and its 11th in school history, also got a 16-yard touchdown run from Caleb King, who, in addition, threw an 11-yard scoring pass to Logan Moroney, while Cullen Williams finished the scoring with a 19-yard run.
“You set out to do this,” Conto said of repeating as champion. “It’s long journey, 12 weeks. You start out when its 90 degrees and you end up when its 20. A lot of things occur in between. There are a lot of ups and downs, a lot of ways a team can go. Good things happen, bad things happen. It’s quite a journey.”
For Karns City, this step in the journey was suppose to be an easy one.
After all, the Gremlins beat St. Marys (8-4) 42-0 in Week Three holding the Dutch to negative 1 yard on offense.
But, according to Defilippi, this isn’t the same St. Marys teams, and that showed early on.
After Kings’ touchdown run put Karns City up 8-0 less than three minutes into the game, St. Marys’ defense held on the next Gremlin possession, and then the Dutch offense answered with a score of its own when Pat Schlimm hit Brady Bauer with a 22-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to two, 8-6, with 44 seconds left in the first quarter.
“You just have to compete better,” Defilippi said of the difference between the first game and the title game in which the Dutch finished with 257 yards of total offense. “If you watch us all year, we didn’t do a whole lot different here tonight. It’s just about competing and getting better. We are a lot better of a team tonight than we were in Week Three.”
But while St. Marys was an improved team over the first meeting, the Dutch still didn’t have an answer for big Karns City plays. And the Gremlins came up with a huge one following the Bauer touchdown when Chandler Bauer returned the ensuing kickoff 49 yards to the St. Marys 29-yard line.
That led to Dunmyre’s first score of the night on the 28-yard third-down touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter that pushed Karns City’s lead to 15-6.
“The college and pro guys talk about it all the time,” Conto said. “Offense, defense and special teams. You have to win all three. We put a lot of time in our special teams. We always have. We pride ourselves in having a good punt game, a good kick game and a good return game. These things make a big difference. It’s field position. Any time in high school football you’re in four-down territory, you have a chance to score.”
St. Marys looked like it was going to answer Karn City’s touchdown with another score of its own, especially after the Dutch appeared to pick up a first down at the Gremlin 31-yard line on a short Schlimm to Bauer pass. But an offensive pass interference call negated the play, and the Dutch were forced to punt a play later.
Karns City then struck on the first play after the punt when Dunmyre broke free for an 82-yard scoring run to make it 21-6 Gremlin with 7:44 left in the half.
“That’s big,” Conto said of the penalty. “Obviously, for them, it was a drive killer. Anytime you get 10-, 15-yard penalties they are drive killers. Its hard to start out that way. You don’t want to be the team that makes the mistake, and they had that big penalty there. I would have liked to have gotten the stop without it, but we will take it.”
Karns City took the 21-6 lead into the break, and after halftime the Gremlins blew the game wide open in a 52-second span midway through the third quarter.
First, after forcing St. Marys to punt on its opening drive of the second half, Dunmyre finished off a quick 3-play drive with a 31-yard touchdown run to make it 27-6. The short field was set up by a 29-yard Evan Stitt punt return that would have gone for more without a penalty on the Gremlins.
Two offensive plays after Dunmyre’s third touchdown of the game, Colt Beham picked off a Schlimm pass at the St. Marys 11-yard line. One play later it was 34-6 Gremlins when King hit Moroney with the 11-yard scoring pass.
Karns City then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but King was intercepted by Richie Williams near the goal line to keep the Mercy roll from rolling temporarily,
But that didn’t last long, as Dunmyre once again found the end zone on the Gremlins next possession, this time from 32 yards out to make it 41-6.
Williams added a touchdown for the backups early in the fourth quarter before Nathan Straub set the final score with a 9-yard scoring run late in the game for the Dutch.
“Our kids played well,” Defilippi said. “We had a great run, and the kids did a really nice job. They competed. It snowballed for us a little bit in the third quarter, but their effort was there tonight. This was a good step for our program. To get to the championship game and compete in it. I can’t be happier with the effort of my kids.”
Karns City’s journey continues with a PIAA District 5-8-9 sub-regional game next week at Chestnut Ridge, who won the District 5-8 title with a 17-14 win over Bedford Friday night. For the first time, the game will be played on one of the team’s home fields, in this case at Chestnut Ridge, which is near Bedford.
KARNS CITY 49, ST. MARYS 12
Score by Quarters
SM 6 0 0 6 – 12
KC 8 13 20 8 – 49
KC – Caleb King 16 run (Jimmy Thompson run), 9:24
SM – Brady Bauer 22 pass from Pat Schlimm (run failed), 0:44
KC – Colin Dunmyre 28 run (Logan Moroney kick), 11:54
KC – Dunmyre 31 run (run failed), 7:44
KC – Dunmyre 31 run (run failed) 6:52
KC – Moroney 11 pass from King (Moroney kick), 6:00
KC – Dunmyre 32 run (Moroney kick), 3:37
KC – Cullen Williams 19 run (Thompson pass from King), 9:22
SM – Nathan Straub 9 run (Zach Fox kick), 3:26
First Downs 17 15
Rushes-Yards 46-172 31-334
Passing Yards 85 34
Passing: Comp-Att-Int 9-14-1 2-9-1
Total Yards 257 368
Punts-Avg. 6-31.7 3-34.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 6-51 3-25
TOP 30:48 17:12
Rushing – St. Marys: TJ Hogan 37-158, Nathan Straub 4-15, Jordan Straub 2-7, Pat Schlimm 3-negative 8. Karns City: Colin Dunmyre 13-203, Christian Turner 5-64, Cullen Williams 2-20, Caleb King 2-17, Steven Bellas 2-10, Ethan Conto 1-8, Maverick Kelsea 1-6, Jacob King 1-4, Seth Silverio 1-1, Aaron Hutchison 1-1, Colton Hawk 1-1, Briggs Buck 1-negative 1.
Passing – St. Marys: Pat Schlimm 9-for-14, 85 yards, 1 interception. Karns City: Caleb King 1-for-8 11 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception. Cullen Williams 1-for-1, 23 yards.
Receiving – St. Marys: Brady Bauer 6-79, Jordan Straub 2-6, TJ Hogan 1-0. Karns City: Logan Moroney 2-34.
Interceptions – St. Marys Richie Williams. Karns City Colt Behman.