Three second-half turnovers cost Chucks in 17-14 loss to Gremlins

KARNS CITY — In a close game, turnovers can prove to be very costly, and the Chucks learned just how true that fact is on Friday night. Punxsy committed its third turnover of the second half, and Karns City turned it into a Zach Moore 32-yard game-winning field goal with 49 seconds left in the game to give Karns City the 17-14 win in Karns City.

“It was a hard-fought contest, as we made a lot of different mistakes,” explained Punxsy head coach Alan Nichol. “When you make three second-half turnovers against a good team, it is hard to overcome, and we were right there until Karns City made the field goal.”

After taking over on the 21-yard line, Punxsy’s Christian Falgout ran for eight yards, and Jamie Bush ran five of his own to begin the game-changing drive. After a Falgout yard, Bush added a 13-yard burst to the visiting 33-yard line. Following an illegal motion penalty of five yards, Bush lost the handle on his next carry, and Karns City recovered on the Punxsy 42-yard line with 5:05 left in the game and the score tied, 14-14.

The Gremlins ran six straight times down to the Chucks’ 19-yard line. Four plays later, on a third-and-12, Dakota Mohney went five yards to the 16-yard line to set up a fourth down. Moore came on and booted what would be the game-winner through the uprights for the 17-14 lead with 49 seconds left in the contest.

Falgout returned the ensuing kickoff to the Punxsy 34-yard line with nine seconds on the clock. Quarterback Garrett Zimmerman connected with Clayton Dale on the first pass, but Dale was ruled to be out of bounds. With five seconds left, Zimmerman rifled a pass downfield, only to see it broken up to end the contest with the same 17-14 score and give Karns City a win.

“It is tough to lose. It stings,” added Nichol. “It was just one of those nights. I am proud of the guys, as that’s what it is all about.”

As close as the final score read, the final statistics were the same. The Chucks (4-3) produced 288 yards on 48 plays with 215 coming on the ground. The Gremlins (5-2) ran 40 times for 259 yards with a team total of 275 yards on 43 plays from scrimmage.

Punxsy saw both Falgout and Bush surpass the 100-yard rushing mark on the night. Behind a 40-yard run, Falgout finished with 113 yards on 21 totes and a 15-yard touchdown. Bush totaled 104 yards on 15 carries.

After throwing for over 170 yards in each of the past two weeks, Zimmerman saw his passing yardage drop to 73 yards on five of 10 attempts with an eight-yard scoring throw to Bush. Dakotah Byars and Alex Bevak both pulled in 20-plus yard passes of 24 and 22 yards, respectively.

Dale had a 14-yard grab, and Caesar Maruca added a four-yard screen.

Running back Wyatt Everetts paced the Gremlins with 127 yards on 12 carries including six of the rushes for more than 10 yards apiece.

Tied 7-7 at the half, Punxsy produced 15 yards on its opening three rushes. On the first pass of the second 24 minutes, Zimmerman saw his attempt go off Dale’s hands and into the hands of Karns City’s Matt Conto who was on the ground when the ball dropped into his hands on the visiting 48-yard line.

The Chucks' defense held the Gremlins to eight yards on three plays including a home false start to force a punt.

Punxsy took over on its 28-yard line. After two negative run attempts, Zimmerman fired a pass over a defender’s shoulder into the hands of Bevak for 22 yards. Two plays later, the Punxsy QB rolled out and found Byers for another big gain, covering 25 yards down to the Karns City 23-yard line. The Chucks went back to the ground game only to see Bush fumble the ball after three yards, and the Gremlins pounced on it.

Karns City started a promising drive with two runs for 23 yards. After 15-yard penalties to each team on back-to-back plays, the Chucks' defense stopped the Gremlins on third-and-17 to force another punt.

Falgout became the "workhorse" to put the Chucks in front and break the 7-7 deadlock on the next drive. He ran for three and five yards before breaking the biggest gainer of the night for Punxsy of 40 yards down to the home 22-yard line. After a Bush four-yard dive, Falgout added three yards before scampering 15 yards on third-and-three for the first Chucks’ lead of the night, 14-7, with 10:11 remaining in the game.

The Punxsy lead would last just over two minutes. On the Gremlins’ second play of the ensuing drive, Everetts broke free for 49 yards down to the Chucks’ 11-yard line. On fourth-and-seven, Karns City QB Tyler Kepple tried a rare pass and completed it to Mohney for the 10-yard touchdown for the 14-14 tie with 7:46 showing on the clock.

With 7:36 left, Punxsy took over in the drive resulting in its third turnover and the eventual ensuing Karns City field goal.

Beginning the night, the Chucks played takeaway themselves. On the second offensive play of the game, the Gremlins’ quarterback fumbled on his own 49-yard line, and the Chucks recovered.

Punxsy took over at mid-field but could not take advantage of the home turnover. After two Falgout runs of a yard apiece and an incomplete pass, the Chucks punted the ball away.

Fresh off its good defensive series, Karns City showed its running game. On its 32-yard line, the Gremlins’ Everetts rumbled 11 yards on the first play.

Following a three-yard gainer, Moore took a reverse handoff, found daylight and raced 54 yards for the game’s first points. Moore added the point after for a 7-0 with 8:32 left in the first quarter.

The visitors tried to answer with a 10-play drive. After a seven-yard run, Bush took a quick hitter and bowled over a few tacklers for 34 yards into Karns City territory at the 40-yard line. On a pitch out, Falgout took care of the second first down of the drive with a 13-yard burst down to the Gremlin 21-yard line.

On third-and-14, Zimmerman ran for three yards. He dropped back to pass but ended up pulling the ball down to run to the 10-yard line but saw a false start called on the Chucks. The Punxsy QB scrambled again but was taken down after seven yards to the 20-yardline to turn the ball over downs.

The Gremlins’ ground game went to work. Everetts started the drive with a 10-yard run to start, and Kepple added his own keeper on the option for 14 yards four plays later to the Punxsy 47-yard line.

Everetts recorded an 11-yard rush before Karns City picked up 13 more yards on four-straight rushes to the Punxsy 24-yard line.

The home team garnered just six yards on an incompletion, five-yard run and recovering its own fumble for another yard. On fourth-and-four, Punxsy’s Luke Shiock stuffed Jake Laughery for a loss of three yards to turn the ball over on downs at the 18-yard line.

The longest drive of the night ensued covering over eight minutes. Punxsy ground out nine yards on three plays and received a defensive offsides call for five yards before Zimmerman connected with Dale for a 14-yard pass to midfield.

A Falgout 11-yard run was the longest gain over the next 11 plays as Punxsy continued to move down the field.

On the 16th play of the drive, Zimmerman completed a short pass in the flat to Bush for an eight-yard score to tie the game at 7-7 with 49 seconds left in the first half.

Punxsy will stay on the road with another stiff test next week. The Chucks will face the Bobcats of Clarion in a 7 p.m. affair at Clarion University’s Memorial Stadium.