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Garing, Karns City Pound Their Way into D9 2A Title Game; Ridgway in Title Game for 5th time in 6 Years

Luke Garing ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns in Karns City's win over Central Clarion Friday night. Photo by Jared Bakaysa of JB Graphics. See more of Bakaysa's work here

KARNS CITY, Pa. – There was nothing fancy about Karns City’s 35-7 win over Central Clarion County in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals on Friday, just old-fashioned smash-mouth football.

Rewatch the game

Luke Garing rushed for 175 of the Gremlins’ 372 yards on the ground as well as two touchdowns, as the Karns City offense line dictated the course of the game.

“We stayed on our blocks and ran the football, that’s what Karns City football is all about,” Garing said. “When that line is getting a five, six-yard push, the backs are doing good. It starts with our linemen.”

See Garing’s full interview here:

The talented plethora of Karns City ball carriers did their thing as well, as eight different players garnered positive rushing yards in the win that puts them back in position to defend their District 9 title from a year ago.

“I’m super pleased with our performance,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “You know, Clarion had a rough go of it in the first half of the season and they really turned it on in the second half. They’re a dangerous team with (Jase) Ferguson at quarterback, the way he throws the ball. I think we were able to control the ball and keep the ball away from them. Just an overall good performance.”

It was all Gremlins right from the get-go, as they took the opening drive 57 yards on eight plays, capped by an 8-yard scoring plunge from Garing.

The critical juncture of the half came when Central Clarion touched the ball for the first time on the ensuing possession. The Wildcats drove 57 yards down to the Karns City 12, but were stymied on a fourth-and-two.

“I thought that was super important,” Sherwin said. “If they score there you never know what’s going to happen

Karns City took over and proceeded to drive the ball 87 yards on 13 plays, taking over seven minutes off the clock before Jayce Anderson’s 3-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 following Zach Kelley’s extra point.

As good as the offense was, the defense was equally impressive. Micah Rupp intercepted a Ferguson pass and Garing rumbled 50 yards from midfield for a touchdown, showing off both his speed and power in the process.

Rupp then showed off his offensive prowess, catching a perfectly executed play-action pass from quarterback Eric Booher 38 yards for a touchdown with 1:33 to go in the half that put the Gremlins up 28-0 at halftime.

It was the only pass completed of the game for the Gremlins, but the running game was working so well they didn’t need to go to the air.

“It’s no secret what we want to do, but at the same time you have to keep teams honest,” Sherwin said. “It’s really important for us to be able to hit a few passes and just keep teams honest defensively.”

Karns City outgained Central Clarion (4-6) 410-155 and led in first downs 23-11.

“Hats off to our offensive line,” Sherwin said. “They’ve done a great job throughout the whole season.”

The Wildcats kept fighting, however, as Ryan Hummell scored on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter, with Ferguson connecting on a long pass to Ashton Rex on the drive. Rex finished with 74 yards receiving and Ferguson 112 yards through the air.

Anderson capped the scoring for Karns City with a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter.

Booher finished with 66 yards on the ground and Anderson 63 for Karns City.

Now it’s on to try and defend their District 9 title, as the Gremlins have a date with Ridgway, a 26-6 winner over Brookville in the other semifinal.

Karns City beat Ridgway 35-0 back on Oct. 15.

“Ridgway’s a good team,” Sherwin said. “It’s going to be a challenge. Any time you play a team twice, you just never know how things are going to go. We’re just thankful to be there and are looking forward to it.”

This is Karns City’s 21st appearance in a District 9 title game (one of those was a 3A subregional with District 9 in 2016), including its 19th in Class 2A. The Gremlins have won 13 District 9 Class 2A titles, one Class 3A title, and one Class 3A subregional title while taking home championships in seven of the previous nine seasons. Karns City has won 10 titles since 2007.

RIDGWAY 26, BROOKVILLE 6

RIDGWAY, Pa. – Good teams find a way to win.

Second-seeded Ridgway (8-3) is a good team, and the Elkers managed to overcome 110 penalty yards and an 0-for-10 performance on third down to beat Brookville, 26-6, in the District 9 Class 2A semifinals Friday night in Ridgway.

The Elkers did it with defense – Brookville was limited to 201 yards of total offense including just 38 rushing yards on 25 carries and the Ridgway scored a safety – while taking advantage of short fields.

Ridgway’s average starting position on its four scoring drives was Brookville 39 ½, and even if you take out a late 8-yard “drive” that resulted in the Elkers’ final points after Ridgway recovered a fumble the average starting field position was still inside Brookville territory on the scoring drives.

Domenic Allegretto threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score in the win, while Jack Berringer kicked a 30-yard field goal and was 3-for-3 on extra points.

Allegretto was 8 of 14 passing for 160 yards including a 53-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Merritt that put the Elkers ahead 10-0 just 51 seconds into the second half.

Then, with Ridgway leading 12-0 midway through the fourth quarter after getting a third-quarter safety, Allegretto capped off a nine-play, 46-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 19-0. The senior finished with seven yards rushing on 19 carries, although he gained 41 yards he lost 34 thanks in part to sacks.

Ridgway’s final touchdown came on a 4-yard Camron Marciniak run with 3:45 to play after Charlie Krug was sacked and fumbled the ball with Ridgway recovering at the Brookville eight. Marciniak ran 13 times for 27 yards.

Prior to that, Krug attempted to lead a comeback getting the Raiders within 13, 19-6, when he found Noah Peterson with a 15-yard scoring pass.

Krug was 14 of 32 for 163 yards, the touchdown, and an interception with Peterson catching six passes for 102 yards and the score.

Eric Salberg led the Ridgway rushing attack with 10 carries for 73 yards, while Marciniak had four catches for 56 yards.

Ridgway will face defending champion Karns City in the D9 title game. Karns City beat Ridgway, 35-0, Oct. 15, which is the last time the Elkers lost. Since then, Ridgway has won three in a row including beating Brookville twice.

The Elkers are making their seventh appearance in a District 9 title game including their fifth in the past six years. Ridgway won the 2A title in 2019 and 2018 after winning back-to-back 1A titles in 2016 and 2017. The Elkers also lost in the 1A title game in 1993 after winning the 1A title in 1989.

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