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Butler County's great daily newspaper

Karns City pounds its way to win at Bradford

By Hunter O. Lyle

Special to the Eagle

BRADFORD — In its final league game of the season, the Karns City football team stuck with a familiar formula.

The Gremlins used their rushing attack to complement a dominant defensive performance, beating Bradford 42-14 to spoil the Owls' Senior Night.

Starting with the ball at its own 33 yard line, Karns City opened the game with its season-long game-plan, running the ball four consecutive times to march down to the Owls’ red zone. Seven plays after the opening kickoff, the Gremlins sat at the one-yard line, with their eighth play punching the ball in for a touchdown with 7:25 left on the clock.

The Owls showed some offense early in a mixed variety. Senior Troy Adkins rushed for a first down on their opening play, followed by freshman Logan Kohler snagging a short pass for another.

While the Owls did not score on their opening drive, a fumble forced by senior Lucas Luktash gave them the ball on the Gremlins’ 38-yard line. Laktash then caught a 26-yard pass from quarterback Talan Reese before also rushing into the end zone from the one-yard line two plays later.

With the score tied at the start of the second quarter, the Gremlins continued to use their brute-force run game to score again less than six-minutes into the quarter. From there, Bradford’s offense slowed to a near halt, being forced off the field on their first possession of the second quarter and fumbling the ball on the following one, resulting in a subsequent touchdown for the Gremlins with just 30 seconds left in the half. The teams went into the break with the score 21-7.

“We tried to get some fire (at halftime). We haven’t been able to play with some consistency or intensity at any point this year,” said Puglio. “We thought we were and we came out and kind of stalled ourselves. (Karns City) is an aggressive team and it’s something we have to keep working towards.”

Facing pressure from the Gremlins’ blitz pressure and insignificant gains on the ground, Bradford continued to struggle to gain yards, achieving only one first down in the third quarter. Karns City found success through the air, scoring two touchdowns on two 44-yard passes on back-to-back drives, including one on their first snap.

Going into the fourth quarter, the Owls were down 35-7.

The Gremlins forced the game into a running clock with a series of short passes and considerable ground gains, forcing the deficit to 35 with just under five minutes remaining. However, the Owls were able to score once more with three minutes remaining from a 35-yard rush from Reese, who then threw a six-yard pass to sophomore Adam Ward on the two-point conversion, resulting in a final score of 42-14.

“[Karns City] just beat us up front. They were getting the second level, third level with tackles all night long,” said Puglio, “and if we can’t stop their run, then that’s going to be tough to win.”

Reese ended the game with 178 passing yards and a touchdown, completing 22 of his 32 attempts while also rushing for 32 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Isaiah Fitton led the defense with 14 tackles, followed by sophomore Evan Whitmore, who claimed 12 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

Going forward, both teams will play their final game of the season on Oct. 28. The Owls take on out-of-conference Kane on the road, while Karns City will host Clearfield on Friday.

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