CLARION, Pa. (EYT/D9) — For weeks, Ryan Hummell has been begging and pleading to get some snaps on offense for the Central Clarion football team.
During that time, Wildcat coach Dave Eggleton resisted.
Hummell, who is playing with a torn ACL, is too valuable on defense to risk on the other side of the ball.
Things changed toward the end of the game against Karns City at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
Hummell scored on an 8-yard run in overtime to lift Central Clarion to a dramatic 26-20 win over the Gremlins.
“He came to me in the second quarter when Connor Kopnitski ended up getting injured and said, ‘Coach, I can play offense,’” Eggleton said. “I was just kind of like, ‘OK. I know.’ We get to the fourth quarter and we got the ball back with a short period of time left and Coach (Cam) Kirkland said, ‘Let’s put Hummy in on offense.’”
Hummell finally got his wish.
His game-winning score came on a third-down play after Central Clarion had forced a fumble on Karns City’s possession in OT.
“He’s a guy we trust to carry the ball,” Eggleton said. “We were going to run the ball three times and then set up for a field goal, but on that third down play, our offensive line just moved guys. Ryan got to about the goal line before he got hit.”
For Hummell, it was very satisfying.
“It felt amazing,” the senior said. “I kept telling the line to find it in their heart to win.”
After blowing out teams the last few weeks, Central Clarion found itself in a tussle against Karns City.
The Wildcats took a 7-0 lead on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Jase Ferguson to Ashton Rex less than two minutes into the game.
Karns City responded midway through the first quarter on a 27-yard run by Levi Hawk that knotted the game at 7-7.
Ferguson, who had a big game throwing and running, gave Central Clarion a 14-7 lead at the half on a 9-yard run.
Karns City opened the second half with a 90-yard kickoff return by Zach Kelly. The extra point attempt was blocked and the Wildcats clung to a 14-13 lead.
Central Clarion extended its lead when Ferguson found Rex again for a 23-yard scoring pass. Karns City returned the favor by blocking the extra point to stay down by one score, 20-13.
Eric Booher then hit Nate Garing on a 40-yard catch and run for a touchdown with just 33 seconds left in the third quarter to tie the game at 20-20.
It stayed that way until overtime. Ferguson made a huge play on defense, ripping the ball out of Booher’s grasp at the 5 to end the Karns City possession.
Two plays later, Hummell ended the game with his TD run.
Ferguson finished the game 16-of-30 passing for 216 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 17 times for 111 yards and a score.
“Jase made a lot of plays with his feet, especially, extending plays and just pulling down and running,” Eggleton said. “Just a great game by him tonight.”
Booher threw for 137 yards and also rushed for 37 to lead Karns City.
Central Clarion did a good job limiting the Gremlins’ ground game, holding them to just 92 yards on 29 attempts.
“They took the run away from us,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “That’s something we need to look at and fix. We were able to move the ball by throwing it a little bit more this game. Nate (Garing) had a nice game. Micah (Rupp) had a big catch.”
Garing caught four passes for 106 yards and Rupp had two receptions for 31 yards for KC.
But the Gremlins struggled with consistency on offense.
“I thought the kids played hard,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “I was proud of their effort tonight. Some things didn’t go our way at the end of the day, and in overtime. But, you know, in the second half, I thought we played much better defensively. We had a nice kickoff return to start the half. We just had to find a way to move the ball better in the second half.”
For Central Clarion, it was another test and another passing grade.
“This just shows what we’re capable of doing,” Hummell said.
“We haven’t played a full game since Week 2,” Eggleton said. “And that was the only full game we’ve played all season. Most of our games, our JV has been in during the fourth quarter, so it was a good sign to see us play four quarters. In the fourth quarter, we were winning the battle at the line of scrimmage.
“Our guys worked hard. They really worked hard in the offseason,” Eggleton added. “They work hard every week and we’re still conditioning at this point of the season. I think that shows. Also, we have a lot of depth and a lot of our offensive line are one-way players. I think that was kind of the difference there toward the end. We’re putting fresh bodies out there.”