KARNS CITY — Twelve minutes into the game, the Karns City and Clarion football teams had combined for zero points and five turnovers.
Neither team could take advantage of the other’s foibles.
It set the stage for a frustrating night for both teams.
But, Clarion managed to survive the turnover bug, scoring two fourth-quarter touchdowns — the last, fittingly, on an interception return for a score — to hand the Gremlins another disappointing home loss at Diehl Stadium, 21-7, Friday night.
By the time the final second had ticked off the clock, the turnover tally rested at nine — five for Karns City and four for Clarion.
“Turnovers were a big part of this game,” said Karns City coach Joe Sherwin. “Both teams had them. I don’t think either team can be happy about the turnovers. I don’t think we capitalized on their turnovers like we should have.”
The first two Clarion drives ended with a turnover and the Bobcats also muffed a punt in between, but the Gremlins were unable to capitalize on any of the Bobcats’ mistakes.
Clarion didn’t have much luck seizing momentum after Karns City miscues, either.
“There were some key turnovers and some key defensive plays made,” said Clarion coach Larry Wiser. “As usual, both teams played their hearts out.”
Clarion (3-0) managed to get on the board first with Archer Mills finding Ethan Burford on an 11-yard slant for a touchdown early in the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.
It didn’t last long.
On Karns City’s first offensive play after the Bobcat score, Hunter Jones scurried through a gapping hole and ran untouched 62 yards for a touchdown. Jones ended the night with 163 yards on 16 carries.
Jones was a big part of a drive to begin the second half for Karns City that showed promise as the Gremlins (1-2) moved methodically from their own 22 to the Clarion 23 before a fumbled snap ended it — and dashed Karns City’s momentum.
“We were pushing them down the field in the second half and that fumbled snap was a big,” Sherwin said.
Wiser also thought it was the turning point in the game.
“I really felt Karns City had the momentum,” Wiser said.
Still, the Gremlins’ defense was able to keep Clarion in check.
Dalton Pyle came up with a big, juggling interception of Mills to end a Clarion drive in the third quarter and the Karns City defense held the Bobcats to only 97 yards rushing on 30 attempts.
“I think our defense kept us in the game tonight,” Sherwin said. “I was definitely pleased with that.”
Sophomore middle linebackers Nathan Waltman and Cole Coon had strong games defensively for Karns City.
“I’m excited to see the future both those guys have,” Sherwin said.
It was a Clarion defender, though, that made arguably the biggest play of the game.
After Clarion had moved ahead 14-7 on a 1-yard run by Mills, Tyler McCord-Wolbert intercepted a pass and took it back 30 yards for a touchdown to seal the game.
McCord-Wolbert, a senior, hasn’t played football since his freshman year.
“That’s something he’ll remember 30 years from now,” Wiser said.
Karns City would simply like to forget this one and move on to next week, which is another big one against another rival, Moniteau.
“Guys are progressing. Again, just fell short in the end,” Sherwin said. “That’s why this conference is kind of exciting. You just never know from week to week how things are going to end. We have to shake this one off and be prepared for next week.”
Clarion returns home to welcome Brookville Friday night.