HYDE — Midway through the high school football season is just about the time when it is time to celebrate the past of the school, while the present helps mold the future. It means it’s time to celebrate homecoming, and for Clearfield, that means getting the sidelines decorated with garland, and the stands adorned with balloons. It also means the Alumni Band makes a return, some coming for yet another chance to show their love for their schools.
The main attraction for the Bison is at halftime, when the entire homecoming court is presented. Even with the risk of rain, and a slight mist coming down, the senior class presented eight young women who they felt defined what it meant to go to Clearfield.
The votes were tallied, and the bright smile on Emma Potter said it all. She took her walk onto the podium, received her crown and sash as the 2016 Homecoming Queen.
But there was another big reason that fans came to the Bison Sports Complex. Homecoming festivities may take place at halftime, but there were 48 minutes of football that also would take place on the turf. The Bison took to the field, and looked across at the Bellefonte Red Raiders, who were ready to continue their upset streak after taking down Tyrone one week earlier.
The visitors soon found themselves realizing the Golden Eagles and the Bison are two completely different teams. Clearfield showed its strength early, and then let its defense make the biggest impact. A dominating performance on both sides of the ball gave Clearfield the decisive 28-0 shutout win.
“Anytime you get a shut out, you’ve played a good (defensive) football game,” head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards. “Credit to our coaches and kids. Just a very sound, defensive football game. They took control.”
The defense was dominant from the opening drive to the final one, holding Bellefonte to a mere 66 yards of total offense, including just 10 total yards rushing. The Red Raiders saw time tick away easily as the Bison defense also held them to just under 15 minutes in time of possession, as five of their seven offensive drives ended with three plays.
Meanwhile, Clearfield began their extended play on the first drive. Totaling 15 plays, covering 75 yards, the Bison offense utilized the legs of Seth Caldwell to eat up the yardage over most of the drive. The senior tailback closed out the drive on a two-yard dive into the end zone, and Josh Serena booted the point after to give Clearfield the opening 7-0 advantage.
The drive took nearly seven minutes off the clock, and Janocko was satisfied how his offense was operating from the first snap of the game.
“That was huge. I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage, mixing both runs and passes in,” he said. “When you can do that, and be disciplined, that’s a credit to the kids.”
Bellefonte punted on their first drive, and Clearfield went back to work. This time, the drive didn’t take as long, but was just as effective.
Caldwell had his biggest run of the game on the drive, a 29-yard burst, to put the Bison in the red zone. Caldwell ended his night with 115 yards on the ground on 27 carries, averaging just under five yards a carry. But, it wasn’t Caldwell that capped the drive. Instead, a call to the second-in-line back, Luke McGonigal, capped the drive early in the second quarter. The 1-yard push to the goal line, plus Serena’s right leg, allowed Clearfield to open up the 14-0 lead.
Janocko was glad to see Caldwell again be the workhorse of the team, but also pointed out that his team isn’t one-dimensional in the backfield.
“We’re able to mix the ball around a little bit. I thought McGonigal had some big carries tonight, and (Ryan) Lezzer had some big carries tonight,” he said. “When you have those three carrying the ball, and then our quarterback (Issac Rumery) breaks a big one, you have four kids that had big runs tonight.”
It wouldn’t be till the Bison’s final drive of the first half where they ultimately put the game away fro good, although it was more of a challenge in this instance.
Clearfield pushed to the Bellefonte 21, only to find themselves stopped on third down. The 4th-and-6 call wasn’t to try a field goal. Knowing the field position wouldn’t be horrible if a first down wasn’t gained, the Bison opted to go for it.
Rumery was able to roll away from protection and aired the ball down the right side of the secondary. He could see Steven Sawyer in a window by the goal line, and even with two defenders in the proximity, the ball went right into the hands of his tight end. Serena added another point-after, and heading into halftime, Clearfield had a clear 21-0 lead and advantage.
Bellefonte only held the ball for just under eight minutes in the first half, and were held to six yards of total offense. Had it not been for a pass interference penalty called on a pass by Red Raider quarterback Chase Gardner, the Bison could say they never yielded a first down in the first 24 minutes in play.
“You want the ball in your hands as much as you can, and we did that tonight. Bellefonte is a good team, they are going to win a few more games this yea, believe me,” Janocko said.
To open the second half, Bellefonte finally had a drive go in their favor to start things out. Gardner completed a pass to Cade Fortney for 32 yards, getting the team on the cusp of Bison territory. Unfortunately, the Bison defense was ready to stop the possible change in momentum.
Three plays later, Gardner looked the same direction. Just one problem: his receiver wasn’t there. The man that was there…Ryan Lezzer. Clearfield pulled in the first, and ultimately only, turnover of the night, and were set to make the opposition pay for it.
The ensuing drive was a near mirror image of the first drive of the game, this one taking 16 plays, and chewing up six minutes on the clock. McGonigal once again had the honor of closing out the drive, this time on a 6-yard rush to pay dirt. Serena’s extra point put the score at 28-0, which ultimately would be where it stayed.
For most of the final quarter, Janocko decided to keep the ball on the ground, and just like most of the game, run time off the clock. It allowed him to get his main offense some needed rest, and then let his younger players get some playing experience. That was something Janocko was especially pleased with.
“It’s good to get everyone in the game, and we did that,” he said.
Clearfield sits at 5-1, but remains undefeated at home thus far in the 2016 season. Janocko is extremely glad at all the support the Clearfield area has given the team this season, especially seeing such a big crowd of current students and parents, along with former students, come to the field to back his team.
“It doesn’t get much better than that,” he said with a smile.
That feeling of being at home now comes to a stop as the Bison will be back on the road next Friday night for a showdown against Tyrone. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bellefonte 0 0 0 0 – 0
Clearfield 7 14 7 0 – 28
BISON: 2-yard run by Caldwell (Serena kick), 5:04
BISON: 1-yard run by McGonigal (Serena kick), 11:57
BISON: 21-yard pass from Rumery to Sawyer (Serena kick), 1:09
BISON: 7-yard run by McGonigal (Serena kick), 4:36
First Downs: 4/20
Rushing Yards: 10/258
Passing Yards: 56/89
Total Yards: 66/347
Time of Possession: 14:52/33:08
Bellefonte: Gallishaw-10 carries, 33 yards; Gardner-5 carries, (-24) yards; Kreger-1 carry, 0 yards.
Clearfield: Caldwell-27 carries, 115 yards, TD; Rumery-7 carries, 41 yards; McGonigal-7 carries, 36 yards, 2 TD; Bender-6 carries, 23 yards; Lezzer-4 carries, 32 yards; Lazauskas-2 carries, 9 yards; Reed-2 carries, (-1) yards; Wilt-1 carry, 3 yards.
Bellefonte: Gardner-6 for 13, 56 yards, INT; Kreger-0 for 1.
Clearfield: Rumery-6 for 12, 89 yards, TD.
Bellefonte: Fortney-3 catches, 46 yards; Boone-1 catch, 5 yards; Smith-1 catch, 4 yards; Helms-1 catch, 1 yard.
Clearfield: Heichel-2 catches, 41 yards; Lezzer-2 catches, 21 yards; Sawyer-1 catch, 21 yards, TD; Graham-1 catch, 6 yards.
|08/26||@ DuBois||20 – 30||0 – 1|
|09/02||@ Penns Valley||21 – 7||1 – 1|
|09/09||CENTRAL||30 – 28||2 – 1|
|09/16||@ Huntingdon||35 – 21||3 – 1|
|09/23||CENTRAL MOUNTAIN||28 – 7||4 – 1|
|09/30||BELLEFONTE||28 – 0||5 – 1|
|10/14||@ Bald Eagle Area|