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Whatever It Takes: Karns City Runs 60 Times, Grinds Out 14-6 Win Over St. Marys

KARNS CITY, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Eric Booher knelt on one knee, lowered his head and sobbed.

Hunter McConnell consoled the Karns City senior quarterback. Gremlins’ head coach Joe Sherwin came over and patted Booher on the shoulder pads.

It was a difficult week for Booher, who had a death in the family, fell ill and was still dealing with a broken right wrist that prevented him from throwing the football.

(Above, Eric Booher shows emotion after a 14-6 win over St. Marys. Booher had a death in the family during the week, but still played despite that, an illness and a still-mending broken wrist and helped Karns City to the gutty win.)

He was questionable to play against St. Marys on Friday night. But he suited up and was at the helm of an offense that ran the ball 60 times for 245 yards, had two drives that lasted more than seven minutes and just found a way in a 14-6 win over the Flying Dutch.

“He played a great game and he’s a great kid,” Sherwin said. “That’s why he’s the captain of our team. The effort he provided — I just can’t say enough about him. He’s done a fantastic job.”

It was the second week Karns City was grounded because of quarterback injuries. It was also the second straight week it didn’t much matter.

The Gremlins’ offensive line was dominant again, opening up holes for eight different ballcarriers and helping sustaining long, time-consuming drives.

That kept St. Marys’ dangerous offense off the field for long stretches.

Levi Hawk scored on a 4-yard run with 3:39 remaining in the first quarter to give Karns City a 7-0 lead.

The Gremlins went up 14-0 at the end of a 17-play, 89-yard drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock at the end of the first half. That drive was capped by a 9-yard run by Hawk, who finished with 96 yards on 17 carries. It was also kept alive by a running into the kicker penalty on fourth-and-5 that gave Karns City a first down.

“We’re been working our butts off,” Hawk said. “Our O-line has improved phenomenally and our defense — I don’t think it’s ever been better.”

That defense held St. Marys to just 56 yards in the first half.

Of course, it’s difficult to score without the football. The Dutch ran just 20 plays in the first half and had just three first downs.

“We said all week we have to be physical and match their physicalness,” said St. Marys coach Chris Dworek. “And we didn’t do that in the first half. It’s easy to say this is what’s coming, but to actually physically do it is what we didn’t do in the first half.”

Meanwhile, Karns City was being, well, Karns City.

Lining up. Running the ball. Daring St. Marys to stop it.

The Gremlins had another drive that last more than seven minutes at the start of the second half, but it was stopped at the St. Marys 2.

Sherwin thought about attempting a short field goal to move up 17-0, but decided to keep his offense on the field on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

“Once we got inside the 1, I was like, ‘Heck with it. Let’s go for it,’” Sherwin said. “It would have been nice to come away with points and go up by more than two scores. It just didn’t work out.”

St. Marys finally got some rhythm on offense in the fourth quarter.

The Flying Dutch went 67 yards in seven plays, capped by a 6-yard TD pass from Charlie Coudriet to Carter Chadsey with 6:53 remaining in the game.

Coudriet’s 2-point conversion pass fell incomplete.

Coudriet finished 12 of 22 for 163 yards and a touchdown. He also threw two interceptions — on his first and final pass attempts in the game.

“Things were clicking because we cleaned up things on offense,” Dworek said. “We had a lot less negative plays and a lot less penalties. That was really the thing that was taking the wind out of our sails offensively. Karns City was forcing that stuff, of course, but there’s things we can control better than we did.”

St. Marys had a fourth-and-3 at the Karns City 16 on its next drive, but Micah Rupp stopped Matt Davis, who caught a swing pass, two yards short of the marker. Davis had shed two tackles before Rupp made the stop.

“I thought we he broke that (second) tackle he had it,” Dworek said. “That was a big turning point. A big play.”

Rupp made a number of them on defense.

“He hasn’t necessarily been the game changer on offense that I’m sure he wants to be because of our situation,” Sherwin said. “But he made some nice plays on defense and that tackle was a crucial play.”

After stopping St. Marys at its own 15, Karns City was able to almost run out the final three minutes off the clock as the Gremlins marched to the St. Marys 40 before punting the ball away.

Courdiet was picked off by Braden Slater on the final play of the game.

The win has helped Karns City (2-2) crawl out of an 0-2 hole.

“Sports are everything to us,” Hawk said. “We all dedicate pretty much our lives to the sport. We put everything into winning, no matter how long or what it takes.”

The mantra all week at Karns City was, “Whatever it takes.”

The Gremlins found a way.

“We just had to grind it out a few yards at a time,” Sherwin said. “Defensively we had to shut them down. That was the type of game we needed to play.”

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