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Bobcat Football Team Downs Karns City, Clinches KSAC Big School Title (10/14/17)

The Clarion Bobcat Gridders defeated the visiting Karns City Gremlins in convincing fashion 44-17, on Friday (October 13th) at Memorial Stadium, on Homecoming, to clinch the KSAC Large School crown. This was the first Large School Championship for the Cats, who had won numerous Small School titles, before being forced into the Large School Division by the Conference in 2016.

J(im Campbell photo) Bobcat offense deep in Gremlin territory

The Cats just took over the game, in the second half, to win going away. The offensive line was driving off the ball and opening some huge holes for the backs to run through. The Bobcats, with the classic, ‘this is what we do, this is what we’re about, this is who we are. Now stop us,’ attitude, played vintage Clarion football with their dominant running attack, which racked up 348 yards on the evening. And the defense was outstanding also, containing a very solid KC offense.

Shane Lux, in his article on Explore Clarion put it this way, “Clarion more than showed they’re the best team KSAC Large School Conference – the Bobcats showed why they have the best offensive line in KSAC…”

Karns City took the opening kickoff and proceeded down the field, with Sebastian Troutman carrying the ball over from two yards out.

Trailing 6-0, with the ball at his own 44, Bobcat signal caller Spencer Miller faked a hand off up the middle and with good blocking up front, ran down the right sideline for the score. Archer Mills connected on the PAT and the Cats led 7-6 at 8:28.

Miller, in my estimation played the best game of his varsity career. On a night when efficiency was the theme, Miller completed 4 passes for 57 yards. Four passes for 57 yards, best game, of his career? The four passes were in four attempts. He “batted a thousand”and assisted by sure handed receivers, running good routes and fighting for the ball, the passing game, used “when needed,” was a thing of beauty. And when Miller pulled the ball down and decided to run, just the right time, right play, right result. Miller seemed calm and in control all night.

Karns City’s Troutman scored on another 2 yard run, on their next possession and Josh Wimer threw a halfback pass to Noah Kepple for the two-point conversion to regain the lead, at 14-7.

2017 Clarion Area Homecoming Queen Maddie McNamara (3rd from left) and her Court (L-R) Elizabeth Saver, Maya Miller, Sydney Kiser, Maya Thornton, Devon Quinn

But Sterling Conner fielded the Gremlins’ kickoff at the Bobcat 10, broke through coverage at his own 30, put a nice fake on a Karns City defender in the open field and raced down the left side for a ninety yard touchdown. With the extra point the game was tied 14-all.

After a Karns City punt, the Bobcats put on another scoring drive. A key play was a pass from Miller to Mills covering from the Clarion 35 to the KC 37. Another key play saw Logan Minich go up the middle to the 25. Later Minich ran the ball up the middle for a one yard touchdown. Mills was again successful and the Bobcats led 21-14, with 8:28 left in the half.

Mills put Clarion up by ten – 24-14, with a 20 yard field goal at 1:34.

Time seemingly ran out with, Karns City stopped deep in Clarion territory. But as the Cats were heading to the lockers, the officials had the teams come back on the field and had one second put back on the clock. Karns City placekicker Clay Garing connected on a 33 yard field goal, cutting the Bobcat lead to 24-17 at halftime.

The second half was all Bobcats, with Clarion putting up twenty unanswered points, controlling the clock with a major edge in time of possession, thanks to the strong running game.

After Conner returned the kickoff to the KC forty-nine, the Cats had a fairly short field to work with and drove down the field for a score. Minich ran up the middle for the final ten yards and with the extra point, Clarion led 31-17, with 7:35 left in the third.

At 5:39 of the same period, defensive lineman Thomas Wurster recovered a Gremlin fumble, at the Clarion thirty. The Bobcats just kept pounding the ball and eating up clock. Keeven Weaver finished the drive with a 19 yard run off tackle. The PAT was unsuccessful and the home team led by twenty, 37-17 with fifty-five seconds left on the third quarter clock.

The game’s final score was set up on a nineteen yard run by Weaver, taking the ball from the Karns City thirty-four down to the 15. After a penalty mover the ball back to the twenty, the Bobcats were faced with a second and 15. Miller dropped back and with pressure, scrambled right and ran down the sideline for the score. Mills’ kick set the final at 44-17.

Miller finished the game going 4-for-4 passing, for 57 yards, while rushing for 92 yards, on 7 carries. Minich had 24 carries for 149 yards.  Weaver ran for 61 yards on 4 carries. Zak Bauer had 7 tackles (2 for loss), Miller had 5 tackles. Conner had 4 tackles (1 for loss). Nick Porciello had 4 tackles.

Karns City’s Troutman finished the game with 104 yards rushing.

CAT QUOTES

Logan Minich: My line was obviously making huge holes for me. Like trucks could have been driven through there, literally. They deserve the ‘Player of  the Game.’ Not me.  (Minich was named Clarion’s ‘Hager Paving, Player of the Game’ for the second week in a row by the Explore Clarion/EYT Media broadcast team.)

We wanted to go hard, because we haven’t beaten Karns City in a few years. It really feels great to beat them.

Quarterback Spencer Miller and running back Logan Minich

(Outlook on the next couple of weeks) Hopefully Colton will be back, and from there we’re obviously going to be pushing ahead. We’ll hopefully make the playoffs, but we’re focused on Union/A-C Valley next week.

Spencer Miller: We knew going in, that we had a good chance to beat them. So if we come out and play our game, hit hard, we could win this game. With Karns City, I feel like I have to be focused. Our line did a really good job blocking, so I had a lot more time to think back there, so I could really compose myself and hit open holes.

(On the first touch down) Honestly, that’s my favorite play. It’s mid-line. When we run it, I get real excited because I want to pull the ball, and I did there. It was wide open.

Props to my receivers, this game. They caught the ball. They went after it. They played really well.

Nick Porciello

Nick Porciello: I feel like the game went pretty well. We got back there. We penetrated their offensive line. Our linebackers filled the gaps. We made a couple of mental mistakes. We kept our cool. I felt like the blitzes we ran and plays coach put in for our defense really helper a lot, and contributed to most of my tackles in the backfield. We need to keep going, day by day and get out there against the next team we play. Gotta be ready. Can’t wait.

Lineman Nick Cherico: It was a good, good game. We had a lot of good blocks, a lot of pancake blocks. It was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun playing. The second half, we came out and just had the attitude, zero-zero. Score was zero-zero; we were going to come out, score again, score again after that and just keep driving it  down the field. It was great.

(His favorite thing as offensive lineman: pancake block, picking up the blitz or pulling and doing something?) Definitely a pancake block, hands down, you have to. We have the “Pancake Team” on this team. That’s what you do. It’s a lot of fun.

(On Logan and Spencer) Oh yea, you could see them running down the field. We’d have the blocks. They saw right where the hole was. They’d cut right there and they’d keep going down the field. It was great to see our blocks and look all the way down the field and they were already scoring, in the endzone. It was a great feeling to have that.

I honestly think we can credit this game to a good week of practice. We come in and I think that’s where this whole entire year has gone; we come Monday and learn a new offense, Tuesday. the defense. It’s worth the whole week. We have the preparation. We have a great scout offense team and they deserved a lot of credit tonight too.

(On the offensive line) It’s a fun crew.

Line Coach Nate McClaine: I was really proud of our offensive line tonight.  We were really able to control the line of scrimmage by opening up some nice running lanes for our backs and by giving Spencer some time to throw the ball. The line really took their game to another level and did a great job sustaining their blocks all night. Our line is a great group of guys. They always work hard and strive to improve each week.

On offense, defense, and special teams we really had 11 guys playing their hearts out on every play. We had a great week of practice and our scout teams did a tremendous job getting us ready to play tonight. It’s always a big game when we play Karns City. They are a very well coached team and each year they have a lot of talent on the field. Every time we play it is a physical battle and tonight was no different. Getting a win against one of our biggest rivals, winning on homecoming, and getting a victory that moves us toward a conference title is all very satisfying. I’m really looking forward to what our players have the potential to accomplish in the weeks to come.

Head Coach Larry Wiser: Our linemen had steam coming off their helmets. You can quote me on that. They had steam coming off their helmets. Everyone on the sidelines was saying, ‘Let’s let them keep banging! Let’s them keep banging!’ ‘But should we do this?’ ‘No, run it right down.’ They were awesome, the offensive line. Then there were some key special team plays, at the beginning of the game, Spence’s long run, Sterling’s kickoff return and Archer getting the field goal.

I’m very pleased. Our kids worked hard this week. Playing a good team like Karns City, their a good football team that brings the best out of your kids. We took a step forward as a team. We didn’t make as many mental errors. We faced some adversity at the beginning of the game. That’s the other thing. How do you react when things start going wrong for you. Our kids reacted in the right way, and we got the adjustments done and moved on.

I’m not taking anything away from the backs; they ran hard. But we were opening some holes. Even though they knew it was coming, we were still blasting there.

Spence had some key pass completions and the one time he took off it was a passing play, too. We only threw about six or seven passes, so it was pretty effective.

The Bobcats will host Union/A-C Valley this coming Friday (October 20th), for Senior Night.

(Thanks to Jim Campbell for his action photo. Keep it rolling, Cats!!!!)