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Redbank Valley Defense Buckles Down Against Karns City en Route to 25-15 Victory

NEW BETHLEHEM, Pa. (EYT/D9) – While the Redbank Valley defense had its back up against the wall on multiple occasions while trying to protect a lead, the Bulldogs withstood the test of Karns City on Friday night, 25-15. 

(Photo by Madison McFarland)

“When I left Hershey last year, I basically told my (athletic director), ‘We have to get Karns City on the schedule’ because we need to play these kind of games that are dog fights where we gotta find a way to win ugly,” Redbank Valley head coach Blane Gold said after the game.

The Bulldogs improve to 2-0 on the young season while Karns City continues its search for a first victory and moves to 0-2.

Sophomore Drew Byers took home the Hager Paving Player of the Game for the Bulldogs with 14 carries for 102 yards, but it was an all-around team effort, as well as stout defensive play that led to Redbank’s victory.

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“The effort our guys put forth tonight was incredible,” Gold said. “We gave up yards on defense, but we buckled down and made stops when we had to. Just a real gritty performance.”

The Bulldogs started out with possession in front of the home crowd as Byers’ efforts on the ground set up Redbank nice in Karns City territory.

Senior quarterback Cam Wagner connected with Ashton Kahle from six yards out to put the Bulldogs on the board. A failed 2-point conversion set the score at 6-0.

Just as Gold and company expected, the “dog fight” commenced as junior Luke Cramer and the Gremlins’ run game answered right back to make the score 7-6.

The battle continued into the second quarter as the two teams stayed neck-and-neck late into the first half.

With a little over five minutes to play in the first half, the Bulldogs’ passing-game got in on the action as Wagner teamed up with senior Tate Minich for a 47-yard completion to set up deep in Karns City territory.

Senior Aiden Ortz would eventually reach paydirt with a 2-yard reception to put Redbank up, 12-7.

With under 30 seconds to go in the second quarter, the Gremlins were knocking on the door in the redzone and looking to answer with a score of their own once again. However, the Bulldogs defense came up huge pinned inside their own 10-yard-line, stopping the Gremlins on fourth down.

The scored remained at 12-7 as the Gremlins received to open up the second half. More effective running out of the Gremlins gave them a nice opportunity to take the lead on their first possession of the half.

Once again, the Bulldogs held their ground and found a way to stop Karns City on fourth down to keep things at 12-7.

A Karns City stop on downs the following possession gave the Gremlins another opportunity to get on the board. This time, it was the Bulldog’s secondary and Kahle, who came away with a 72-yard pick-six to flip the script and put Redbank up by two scores, 19-7.

The Gremlins refused to go away on the ensuing possession as the running back tandem of Cramer and Nathan Hess carried the Karns City offense into Bulldog territory.

The Bulldogs found themselves with two opportunities to stop the Gremlins on third down, but Hess found a way to convert a third-and-1 before Cramer’s third-and-6 conversion led to Karns City’s long-awaited first TD of the second half. A blocked extra point try set things at 19-13 with 10:33 left in the fourth quarter.

Just under 15 seconds later, Ortz and the Bulldogs managed to give themselves some breathing room on the strength of a 57-yard touchdown catch and run. A third failed two-point conversion for Redbank set the score at 25-13.

Redbank’s theme of stout defense rang true throughout a large portion of the fourth quarter as Karns City found itself marching towards the endzone after a fumble recovery late in the quarter.

The Gremlins faced a fourth-and-8 situation from the Bulldogs’ 23, with 2:42 left to play in the fourth quarter when Karns City quarterback Mason Martin connected with wideout Cooper Coyle to convert when it was desperately needed. The reception set up Karns City at the five-yard line.

However, the Bulldog defense would simply not break as they were able to stop the Gremlins on downs with 1:42 remaining in the ballgame.

The turnover on downs incidentally set up the Bulldogs with terrible field position, pinned at their one-yard line.

On the next play, Byers failed to gain the goal line and was brought down in the endzone, which made things a little more interesting down the stretch with the score put at 25-15.

Karns City chipped away at the Bulldog defense, but simply ran out of time as the “bend-but-don’t-break’ attitude of Redbank Valley was too much.

“We aren’t clicking on all cylinders right now,” Karns City coach Joe Sherwin said after the game. “There are some mistakes and penalties just not allowing us to score.

“We’re still a good football team and we still have a lot to accomplish this season,” he added. “We’ll get back to work and fix up some of our mistakes.”

Wagner finished the night 12-of-18 for 179 yards through the air to go along with three TDs and an interception.

Martin checked in 12-of-20 for 131 yards and one pick while Cramer finished with 102 yards rushing on the night.

“I don’t care what Karns City graduated. I don’t care who they have back. It’s still Karns City and their 16 District 9 titles,” coach Gold noted. “We’ll get on the tape Monday and we’ll fix stuff, but this is a big program win for us.”

Redbank Valley will travel to Punxsutawney next week while Karns City will play host to Ridgway.

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

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