HYDE– Run the ball, control the clock, win the game. It’s a simple philosophy that many football teams go with. In this age of pass-happy offenses, an old-school ground and pound football game is hard to come by. But when the elements call for such a plan, it sometimes is best to do things the old-fashioned way.
That was the case inside the Bison Sports Complex on Friday night. As a light mist turned into a more steady rain, it was becoming obvious that neither the Clearfield Bisons nor the visiting Juniata Indians were going to enjoy playing on a field that was going to get worse with every snap. At the same time, the two offenses were prepared to endure a smash-mouth, in your face game that would mean many runs, but eat up a lot of time.
The Bisons certainly didn’t have a problem with that as the usual pass-first offense went things the classic way, running the ball in the heart of the Indian defense, grinding out the yardage, and putting up the points.
On a rather wet Homecoming night, the Bisons showed that old-school is cool as they ran away with the victory by a final of 42-13.
“That was a very impressive game,” head coach Tim Janocko said on the sidelines afterward. “I thought our offensive line played phenomenal. They took over the game. But, I have to give credit to our defense and defensive coaches. They had a great game plan coming in, and it worked.”
Not only did it work, it simply shut down an Indian offense that was coming in averaging nearly 370 yards a game. Clearfield held Juniata to 194 total yards.
The Bisons meanwhile captured 363 yards on the night. However, all of those yards were done via the ground game. Janocko was pleased with how his team performed, but was quick to point out that was not the game plan he originally started with.
“We wanted to throw the ball, and we figured we could,” Janocko said. “But, as you can see (as he pointed at the field), conditions said otherwise.
Despite the muddy field conditions, which Clearfield dealt with at their last home game against Mifflin County, it was a strong night for the run game, as both Beau Swales and Christian Lezzer ended the night eclipsing the 100-yard mark on the ground, combining for six of the Bisons seven touchdowns. But, it was Lezzer who had more of those scores, four compared to Swales’ one.
Juniata also had some success running the ball, as Neil Bodley gained 94 yards rushing, and Adam Goshorn added on an additional 75 yards, with the two combining for the two Juniata scores.
The Indians opted to receive the opening kickoff, and didn’t waste much time as after only gaining one yard, Bodley broke loose and was free down the sidelines for 69 yards and the first score of the game. An extra point made it 7-0 just a minute and a half into the game. However Clearfield was ready to respond, and did so just as quickly.
In almost a mirror image, it was Lezzer taking a third down hand off and running 61 yards for the touchdown. Unfortunately, Tyler Herrington’s extra point was way low, leaving the score 7-6, which it remained through the first quarter.
The big momentum swing came in the second quarter. After a nine-yard score by Lezzer put Clearfield up 12-7, as the two-point conversion was missed, the Indians began the next drive at their own 32. One play in things went bad as quarterback Colton Shertzer mishandled the ball, and it hit the turf. Clearfield swarmed on the ball, and the first turnover of the game fell into the Bisons’ favor.
Wasting little time, it took four plays for Lezzer to break into the end zone for a third time, as he took a 2nd and 4 play to the end zone from nine yards out. The ensuing conversion by Swales made the store 20-7, which it remained heading into halftime.
To start the second half, Clearfield found some strong success following a big kickoff return by Lezzer, but unfortunately fell short as they were stopped on downs at the Juniata 8. The turnover gave Juniata a chance to bring the score closer, but they fell short as they were stopped at their own 42. But the next play once again put the momentum in the favor of the Bisons.
A 4th and 4 meant the Indians were forced to punt, but instead opted to try the fake. But Clearfield wasn’t biting and it was a turnover on downs.
“They (Juniata) haven’t punted in two games, so that’s a credit to the defense for forcing them into those situations,” Janocko said.
The ensuing drive would eat up a lot of clock as Lezzer, Swales and Curtis Frye each took turns running the ball, and this time it was Swales capping the drive from 10 yards out to score his lone touchdown of the night. Herrington’s kick made it 28-7 with just over 30 seconds to go in the third quarter.
The next drive saw Juniata go three-and-out, forcing yet another punt. Things went from bad to worse, as the snap went over the head of the punter, resulting in a major loss of yards, and a short field for Clearfield.
The end zone was just 12 yards away, and Clearfield didn’t waste time, as it took only two plays for Lezzer to find the goal line for his fourth touchdown of the game. Another extra point made it 35-7, and at that point it seemed things were way out of reach.
If they weren’t at that point, the kickoff made sure of it as the ball bounced off the up-back and the fumble recovery went in Clearfield’s favor. The possession saw one more back get his time to shine as Ryan Hertlein carried the ball six of the seven plays on the drive, concluding with a two-yard plunge into the end zone. One more extra point made the score 42-7, and put the Mercy Rule into effect.
Juniata got the final score of the night on a 59-yard run by Goshorn, but at that point the game was out of reach.
After enduring three weeks of road games, Janocko was all smiles seeing his team get a victory in front of their home crowd.
“It’s just great to be home. We endured a long stretch of road games, despite going 2-1, but we were dealing with injuries,” Janocko said. “We’re finally getting healthy, and it’s just good to get a win in front of the home fans.”
The road trips come to an end next Friday night as Clearfield (7-1) will travel to face Bellefonte, who lost to Central Mountain 39-3 on Friday.
See photos of the Bison win here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/102111game.html
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Juniata 7 0 0 6 – 13
Clearfield 6 14 8 14 – 42
INDIANS: 69-yard run by Bodley (Eberle kick), 10:31
BISONS: 61-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick NO GOOD), 8:55
BISONS: 9-yard run by Lezzer (Conversion failed), 8:36
BISONS: 9-yard run by Lezzer (Swales run), 6:19
BISONS: 10-yard run by Swales (Lezzer run), 0:34
BISONS: 10-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 9:43
BISONS: 2-yard run by Hertlein (Herrington kick), 6:38
INDIANS: 59-yard run by Goshorn (Conversion failed), 3:46
First Downs: JA-5 CF-15
Rush Yards: JA-178 CF-363
Pass Yards: JA-16 CF-0
Penalties: JA-4 CF-6
Penalty Yards: JA-47 CF-65
Total Yards: JA-194 CF-363
Interceptions: JA-0 CF-1
Fumbles: JA-4 CF-1
Fumbles Lost: JA-3 CF-1
Time of Possession: JA-21:01 CF-26:59
Juniata: Bodley-9 carries, 94 yards, TD; Goshorn-8 carries, 75 yards, TD; Shertzer-5 carries, 27 yards; Saner-6 carries, 15 yards, Team-1 carry, (-22) yards.
Clearfield: Swales-27 carries, 141 yards, TD; Lezzer-9 carries, 126 yards, 4 TD; Hertlein-6 carries, 28 yards, TD; Frye-4 carries, 22 yards; Woomer-2 carries, 14 yards; Longoria-2 carries, 0 yards; Trude-1 carry, 18 yards; Beardsley-1 carry, 14 yards.
Juniata: Shertzer-2 completions, 9 attempts, 16 yards.
Clearfield: Frye-0 completions, 2 attempts, INT
Juniata: Saner-1 reception, 18 yards; Bodley-1 reception, (-2) yards