ADAMS TWP — It was the Kenneth Blake show Friday night at the Mars Athletic Complex.
Kiski Area's junior running back carried the ball 46 times for 188 yards and the game-winning touchdown as the Cavaliers defeated Mars, 10-7.
“Never that intense before,” Blake said, referring to his high-volume workload. “That's the first game ever I've played like that.”
Blake saw little work the past two weeks, as coach Sam Albert rested him for the Mars game.
“I took big heat over it,” Albert said. “We wanted him fresh because we knew we were going to give him the ball as much as we were and he produced tonight.”
Kiski (4-5, 3-3) needed a win Friday night to stay in playoff contention.
“It feels great to get the win,” Blake said. “We put in the work all week. Our coaches were on us. We came in and beat them and did our thing.”
In a scoreless first half, both teams seemed as if they couldn't get out of each other's way.
Penalties haunted Kiski with a Blake touchdown called back in the second quarter on a holding call.
The Mars offense, meanwhile, wasn't able to move the ball.
“I think we played well on the defensive side of the ball,” Mars coach Scott Heinauer said. “From the offensive side, we did not play well. We can't turn the ball over and we needed to establish drives.”
Planets junior running back Teddy Ruffner was held below his standards, with 76 yards on 18 carries. He put the ball on the ground three times, with one fumble going to Kiski.
Ruffner's fumble in the third quarter led to the Cavaliers' first points of the game on a 26-yard field goal from Cody Dykes.
“He (Ruffner) is not superman,” Heinauer said. “He can't carry us on his back every single time. I wish he could.”
Mars responded with a 60-yard touchdown pass to Nick Spotti for a 7-3 edge with 7:29 left in regulation.
But on the next drive, Kiski drove down the field and scored off a Blake 4-yard touchdown to take the lead back at 10-7 with 1:44 to play.
Mars (5-4, 3-3) got the ball into Kiski territory and set up a 35-yard field goal attempt from Blake Edwards.
The kick was tipped at the line and fell short, giving Kiski the three-point victory.
“Mars is always well-coached,” Albert said. “For us, I've never been prouder of a group of kids. They fought from the very beginning.”
Mars will travel to Hampton Friday. Heinauer has a very simple message for his team.
“Must-win game, no question about it,” Heinauer said
Kiski Area 0 0 3 7 — 10
Mars 0 0 0 7 — 7
KA — Cody Dykes 26 field goal, 1:37
M — Nick Spotti 60 pass from Quinn Fuller (Blake Edwards kick), 7:29
KA — Kenneth Blake 4 run (Dykes kick), 1:44