WINGATE — It is not very often that a game is decided before halftime. Teams do not want to get ahead of themselves because at any time, a let down could occur.
With the fall chill officially in the air, and a night fog quickly approaching, the Clearfield Bison traveled to face the Bald Eagle Area Eagles in hopes of maintaining their undefeated record in 2012. Bald Eagle was hoping to regain some of the momentum from earlier in the season, as their two-loss record was still among some of the best in the Mountain League.
But, as the fog began to roll in, the Bison were rolling up the stats. The offense was putting up big numbers, while the defense was in shut-down mode. After just two quarters of play, it was clear who the dominant team was. Clearfield was able to score early, quickly, and often as a seven-touchdown first half was more than enough as the Bison continued to remain unblemished, routing the Eagles on Senior Night by a final of 49-8.
“We played really good defense. They (Bald Eagle) had a couple times where they would make a run here and there, but I think we played the ball real well,” head coach Tim Janocko said after his team was victorious.
The Bison defense was flawless all night, only giving up 124 total yards, including just 24 in the first half. At the same time, it was the Bison offense that put up the stats quickly, scoring on each first half possession to put the game away.
Christian Lezzer once again had a strong night, finishing with 107 yards on the ground, 200 more through the air, eclipsing the 1,000-yard passing mark for the season, three total touchdowns, and also recorded 1.5 sacks on the night.
“Christian is a special player. He had a great year last year as a sophomore, and we’ve seen him come along and just get better each week,” Janocko said.
His supporting cast as well had a night to remember. Running back Tyler Stratton had 97 yards rushing, including three touchdowns, and Trey Jordan had two receptions for 164 yards and a touchdown.
After deferring the opening coin toss, the Bison defense made the first statement. The Eagles muffed the kickoff, reducing what would have been a good return into a deep hole. It would be three plays and out for Bald Eagle, and they would have to punt. On the ensuing possession, Clearfield quickly went to work. On first down, Lezzer broke free and rattled of 41 yards right off the get-go, putting the Bison in the red zone. The next play went to Stratton, who found a gap made by his offensive line, and in less than 30 seconds the Bison were on the board. Spencer Herrington booted the point after, making the score 7-0 early in the going.
The Bison would then do more of the same as the next two possessions for Bald Eagle would also go three-and-out. The ground game for the Eagles would not get any footing, as the top backs for the team found getting any yards would be difficult. Junior Dakota Barley had the most carries of any player on the team, 11, but ended the night with only 42 yards to show for it.
In between those three-and-outs, Stratton was having a great deal of success, but it was Lezzer that gave him the opportunity. On the Bison’s second drive, despite being deep in their own territory, he decided to go long-ball, and found Jordan behind the Eagle defense, and the race was on. Bald Eagle was able to make the tackle just short of the goal line. On the ensuing play, Stratton found pay dirt for the second time. Another extra point, and it was 14-0 with a half a quarter to play.
The third possession for the Bison was more of the same as after a penalty, Clearfield faced a 2nd and 15 at their own 40. But, Lezzer connected with Dylan Graham for 36 yards, then took the ball himself for another 19 to make it 1st and Goal at the 2. It was Stratton once again ending the drive with the rushing touchdown, and Herrington’s extra point made it 21-0.
Clearfield again scored to open the second quarter, as Lezzer punched the ball from just outside the goal line. Another boot through the uprights and it was 28-0, with another score nearly guaranteeing a running clock after halftime.
All the while, the Bison defense continued to play shut down, only yielding one first down up to that point, with every possession leading to an Eagle punt. With 9:45 to go in the half, Lezzer then decided to utilize his right arm to put points on the board. After his first two passes on the drive hit the turf, Lezzer went to his go-to receiver, Jordan. When the ball landed in his hands, the race was on, and no one was catching him as he rumbled for the 82-yard receiving touchdown. Another extra point and the score was 35-0, putting the running clock into effect for the second half.
But the first-team offense wasn’t done, as the next drive following another three-and-out would be all running plays, with Lezzer capping the drive with an 11-yard scamper into the end zone. Herrington was true again, and the rout was all but ensured.
The final Bison touchdown came with 18 seconds remaining as the second-team offense was getting some reps before halftime, and it was Seth Ford getting the nod to complete the “curtain call” for the upper classmen as his 18-yard touchdown and Spencer Herrington’s extra point made it 49-0 at the half, and with a running clock in the final two quarters of play, the first team offense would get a chance to rest, and that is something Janocko was excited about for many reasons, especially with having his younger players get some reps under the Friday night lights.
“It’s a big plus for us because we get the young kids to play a bit in the game, and especially at this point in the season it gives a chance for us to rest those players for later on,” Janocko said. “There’s advantages all around as the younger kids want a chance to play and get some experience.”
With the running clock in the second half, Clearfield was not worried about scoring but rather wanted to finish the night strong and healthy. A scoreless third quarter was evident of that as not one passing play was run by the Bison, as they just wanted to play keep away.
It wouldn’t be until the third drive of the second half when the Eagles finally got a sustained drive that led to points. Titus Tice would be the key back for most of the second half, as he finished the night with 56 yards on the ground, and would be the one to score the only touchdown for the Eagles, a two-yard plunge with 4:35 to go in the game. The two-point conversion was good, which made the score 49-8, which it remained until the final whistle.
Now at 8-0, and one game remaining in the season, Janocko is already looking to next week, which will be a special night for his team as the graduating seniors will take the field one last time at the Bison Sports Complex. Despite seeing a victory just a few minutes prior, Janocko is thinking about what must be done to finish out the season undefeated, win the Mountain League championship, and get set for post-season action.
“It’s a new week, and Senior Night at home for us,” Janocko said. “They know what they have to do and I’m sure our seniors don’t want to lose on their last night.”
The final regular season game for Clearfield is against rival Philipsburg-Osceola (0-8), who is coming off a 34-13 loss against Huntingdon.
See photos of the game here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/101912Game.html
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 21 28 0 0 – 49
Bald Eagle 0 0 0 8 – 8
BISON: 13-yard run by Stratton (Herrington kick), 9:58
BISON: 3-yard run by Stratton (Herrington kick), 6:15
BISON: 2-yard run by Stratton (Herrington kick), 2:51
BISON: 1-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 11:55
BISON: 82-yard pass from Lezzer to Jordan (Herrington kick), 9:45
BISON: 11-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 4:25
BISON: 18-yard run by Ford (Herrington kick), 0:18
EAGLES: 2-yard run by Tice (Pass from Jones to Tice GOOD), 4:35
First Downs: 13/6
Rush Yards: 294/101
Pass Yards: 200/23
Total Yards: 494/124
Penalty Yards: 32/25
Fumbles Lost: 1/1
Time of Possession: 23:22/24:38
Clearfield: Stratton-10 carries, 94 yards, 3 TD; Lezzer-9 carries, 107 yards, 2 TD; Ford-6 carries, 53 yards, TD; Rosa-4 carries, 24 yards; Sellers-4 carries, 11 yards; Beck-4 carries, 6 yards; Kovalick-2 carries, 3 yards; Beardsley-1 carry, (-1) yards; Woomer-1 carry, (-3) yards.
Bald Eagle: Bartley-11 carries, 42 yards; Tice-10 carries, 56 yards, TD; Bartley-8 carries, 35 yards; Long-6 carries, (-12) yards; Jones-2 carries, 14 yards; Weaver-2 carries, 7 yards; Shreffler-2 carries, 2 yards; Greene-2 carries, 0 yards; Riley-1 carry, (-8) yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-3 completions, 6 attempts, 200 yards, TD.
Bald Eagle: Jones-1 completion, 1 attempt, 23 yards; Long-0 completions, 7 attempts, 0 yards.
Clearfield: Jordan-2 receptions, 164 yards, TD; Graham-1 reception, 36 yards.
Bald Eagle: Shreffler-1 reception, 23 yards.