PUNXSUTAWNEY — There would be no need for a second-half comeback from the Central Clarion Bobcats against Punxsutawney after their thrilling victory over Karns City.
The Wildcats took advantage of several Punxsutawney mistakes en route to a 49-14 rout of the host Chucks last Friday.
Four of the Wildcats’ six touchdowns came because of Chucks miscues. A blocked punt and a bad snap on another punt set up two short TD runs by Cutter Boggess while a pair of fumbles in the third quarter the Wildcats either directly or eventually turned into points.
“I’m real pleased with our defense tonight,” said Central Clarion head coach Larry Wiser, whose team heads to the postseason with a 5-1 record. “We got a number of key turnovers which gave us a short field and we were able to take advantage of that. Given what happened last week, we really spent a lot of time on defense in practice this week in trying to fix that.”
The Wildcats ran five less offensive plays than the Chucks, but outgained them 269-147. Breckin Rex paced the Central Clarion rushing attack with 72 yards on eight carries.
Cal German completed 12 of 21 passes for 192 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Cutter Boggess caught five passes for 96 yards while Burford caught four passes for 73 yards.
“It’s hard to believe that we’ve played six games and now we’re getting ready for the playoffs,” said Wiser. “We’re pretty sure we’ll be playing Karns City again, but we haven’t gotten official word on that yet.”
That indeed is who the Wildcats play, a rematch of their wild 43-41 game two weeks ago.
The Wildcats scored twice in the first quarter on Boggess 1-yard runs, the first at the 4:32 mark after a blocked punt set them up at the 1. The second 1-yarder came on the next possession and after a Chucks punt snap sailed over the punter’s head to give the Wildcats the ball at the Chucks’ 15.
Punxsutawney used a 10-play drive which began at the end of the first quarter and moved through the first four minutes of the second before being forced to punt again.
Central Clarion took over at its own 30 following the punt. German hit Boggess on a 45-yard pass play on first down. Two plays later German connected with Ethan Burford on the first of their three TD connections, this one from 22-yards out which put the lead to 21-0 midway through the quarter.
Central Clarion got the ball to start the second half and needed just three plays to score after starting at its own 37. Rex gained 30 yards on the opening play of the half. A two-yard completion to Boggess then set up a 31-yard strike from German to Buford to push the lead to 28-0 with 10:42 to play in the third.
The Wildcats then attempted an onside kick which they recovered at the Punxsy 47. Eight plays later, German and Burford teamed up once again on a 5-yard scoring pass for a 35-0 lead at the 7:09 mark of the third, setting the clock into Mercy Rule running mode.
On the first play following the ensuing kickoff, Christian Simko recovered a fumble and handed the ball to Kyle Bottaro who ran 30 yards for another Wildcats touchdown to put the score at 42-0 with 6:36 to play in the third.
“Davey (Eggleton) did a nice job of making some offensive adjustments for the second half,” said Wiser. “We kept them off balance with our play calling.”
Another fumble recovery by Central Clarion late in the third quarter set up the Wildcats’ final score which came early in the fourth. Verdill lined up for a 23-yard field goal, but the snap was high to holder Christian Simko who was able to run into the end zone for a 49-0 lead.
Punxsutawney scored on a 2-yard run from Zeke Bennett with 6:50 to play. Alex Phillips then caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Falgout with just 13 seconds left. Peyton Hetrick’s point-after kick set the final.
Bennett led Punxsutawney with 65 yards on 19 carries while Falgout added 28 yards on 14 attempts. Falgout completed 5 of 9 passes for 36 yards with Noah Weaver catching two passes for 20 yards.
The Chucks, who lost their 22nd straight game, visit Moniteau Friday.