Karns City uses bruising running game to gain comeback win over Chestnut Ridge
Chestnut Ridge pushed Karns City to the final quarter, but it was the Gremlins’ big boys who were able to drive their team to the state quarterfinals.
The Gremlins ran for 316 yards — 247 in the second half — and rallied from a halftime deficit to win on the road at Chestnut Ridge, 23-14, in the PIAA Class AA first round Friday.
Christian Turner led Karns City’s rushing attack with 87 yards and a touchdown, Collin Dunmyre ran for 80 yards, and Maverick Kelsea added 55 yards on the ground.
Tyler Dunn had 68 yards and a touchdown rushing, but his biggest contribution came on defense with a pair of crucial interceptions for the Gremlins.
Karns City (11-1) advances to the PIAA quarterfinals for the third straight year, where for the second year in a row it will face WPIAL champion South Fayette. But that rematch was no sure thing at halftime, as the Gremlins’ offense scuffled and the team trailed 7-3.
“Our offensive line was not staying on their blocks in the first half. I told them at half, ‘Why do you come in and lift every morning and then come out here and do this?’ ” Karns City coach Ed Conto said. “They all just got after it after that.”
The shift in play was evident on the first drive of the second half, when the Gremlins took the opening kickoff and scored after eight consecutive running plays, the last of which was an 11-yard score by Dunn in his first game back after recovering from a broken scapula.
“All we had to do was run. We have a great line, and they do all the work,” Turner said. “They got a push, and all we had to do was run behind them.”
Momentum shifted further when Dunn made his second interception of the game on the next Chestnut Ridge (10-3) possession, which gave Karns City an edge in field position.
The Gremlins’ next drive stalled in Lions territory, but a Dalton Callihan fumble recovery got the ball back and set Tristan Rhoades up for a 4-yard run that made the score 16-7.
“Turnovers were the difference. They got four, and we got (one),” Chestnut Ridge coach Max Shoemaker said.
“They definitely had the momentum in the third quarter. They came out with fire in their eyes, fire in their bellies, and they took it to us. But our kids are fighters, and we bounced back nicely.”
Chestnut Ridge cut the lead to 16-14 with 7:59 left in the game on a sideline-to-sideline scramble by quarterback Tyler Wiley that went for a 25-yard touchdown. Wiley threw for 87 yards on 5 of 18 passing, and he had 41 yards and both Lions touchdowns rushing.
Karns City responded with a 10-play, 92-yard scoring drive of all rushing plays, which ended with Turner scoring on an 11-yard run.
That left Chestnut Ridge trailing by two possessions with only 3:14 to play, and three plays later, Kelsea grabbed Karns City’s third interception of the game to seal the victory.