CLARION — After a sluggish first half offensively, the Clarion Bobcats broke a halftime tie and pulled away for a 42-14 win over Karns City at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium.
The 28 unanswered points in the second half got the Bobcats to 3-0 going into this Friday’s game at Brookville.
Against the Gremlins, it was Austin Newcomb scoring all four TDs in the second half. He ran for 210 yards on 17 carries, 146 of that coming in the final two quarters. He fumbled twice in the first half.
“He got down on himself a bit after those two fumbles,” said Clarion head coach Larry Wiser. “He’s tough to defend against and I’m glad he’s on our sideline. If the defense puts 10 in the box and he gets past the line of scrimmage he’s tough to catch. If they grab him by the legs he’s able to shake out of those tackles as well. He’s a strong kid and he’s a great kid overall.”
Much like the Bobcats’ game last week at Moniteau at the outset, it was Karns City who controlled the clock, but had nothing to show for it after a nine-play drive to open the game.
But the Gremlins did score first as they recovered Newcomb’s first fumble at the Bobcats’ 24. Six plays later, Luke Garing scored from two yards out. Clarion drove to the Gremlins’ 8 before another fumble ended the drive.
The Gremlins were unable to do anything with the turnover and ended up punting from their own 9. The Bobcats took advantage of good field position and scored on the next play as quarterback Cal German connected with Ethan Burford for a TD just a minute into the second quarter. Beau Verdill added the first of his six PAT kicks to tie the game 7-7 with 11:01 remaining in the half.
German finished the game 8-for-16 passing for 191 yards with the one touchdown. Burford caught four passes for 130 yards.
Newcomb intercepted an Anthony Kamenski pass and then the teams traded punts before the Bobcats went nine plays on a 46-yard scoring drive. Kyle Bottaro plunged into the end zone from a yard out, giving Clarion a 14-7 lead with seven seconds remaining in the half.
However, the Bobcats decided to kick the ball deep and Kaden Scherer made them pay by returning the kick 83 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 at halftime.
“The kids were down after that kickoff return,” said Wiser. “We are still having trouble in the kicking game and that’s something we will continue to work on. Dave (Eggleton) gave a great halftime speech. The kids really responded to that and it really showed in how they played in that second half.”
The Bobcats took the opening kickoff of the second half and used seven plays, which was capped by a Newcomb 2-yard run giving Clarion a 21-14 lead at the 8:33 mark. The big play of the drive was a 59-yard pass from German to Burford.
After stopping Karns City on downs at the Bobcats’ 24, it wouldn’t take long for the Bobcats to strike as Newcomb took the hand-off and raced 76 yards for a Clarion touchdown to increase the lead to 28-14 with 2:44 to play.
“I thought that fourth down stop when they were deep in our end was big,” said Wiser. “It might of only been one score at the time, but you never know in football how momentum might change. We got that stop and I think we got a score right away so that really changed things in our favor.”
Newcomb then scored from two yards out, extending the lead to 35-14 after three quarters.
Karns City drove to the Bobcats’ 21 and faced a fourth down. Ben Smith then tackled Hunter Rowe for a 4-yard loss which turned the ball back to Clarion. Three plays later, Newcomb scored the final touchdown of the game from 53 yards out, setting the final score of 42-14 with 2:26 left in the game.
“We were a little rugged all week in practice,” said Wiser. “We lost a couple guys last week to injuries so we were plugging people into those spots. The guys really came out with a purpose after the halftime talk. We’re 3-0 and that’s where we’re at. We still have a lot to work on. We know we have things we’re doing well so we need to continue with that. We also know we have areas where we need to improve on so we’ll keep working on those improvements.”
Kamenski led the Gremlins ground game with 75 yards on 11 carries. Garing added 43 yards on 11 attempts with a score.
Clarion held a 244-190 advantage on the ground while Clarion’s passing held a 191-16 advantage.