WINGATE — The season is drawing to a close for the Clearfield Bison, and it has been a season where there’s been learning, achieving, and a few trials in order to get to their one-loss record. Entering into Friday night’s contest, the Bison were on the outskirts of locking up another Mountain League championship.
Along with that, one of their stars that has been a go-to player the last four years was embarking on his own personal record. Running back Seth Caldwell was a mere 55 yards away from hitting the 4000-yard mark for his career.
In order to reach that milestone, he had to hope his offensive line would open up holes as they would face off against the Bald Eagle Area Eagles at Alumni Stadium.
When it was all over, Caldwell, head coach Tim Janocko, and the entire herd of Bison fans, players, and coaches saw both achievements unlocked. The Bison overwhelmed the home squad early, and never let up, as Clearfield shut out the Eagles, 37-0, the third consecutive game without giving up a touchdown.
“I thought we did a lot of good things. Bald Eagle is a scrappy team, and they played well in spurts. But we were able to get some big plays when we needed them,” Janocko said afterwards. “We threw the ball pretty effectively again, and mixed some things up. Our defense played really well also, getting some turnovers, which was huge.”
More importantly for Caldwell, his 59 yards rushing on the night were just enough to eclipse the 4000 yard mark, but both Janocko and Caldwell didn’t take credit for getting him all those yards. Both agreed it was the players up front on the line that made the difference.
“Credit to our offensive line, he’ll be the first one to tell you that the people in front of him did a great job,” Janocko said.
Caldwell echoed that statement, but also had another goal in mind.
“I’m very happy to break that mark. It was a goal that I wanted to get. I still want to get the all-time goal, but I couldn’t do it without that offensive line blocking for me every week,” he said.
Clearfield would get things going early, and quickly. After forcing a stop on fourth down thanks to a blocked punt, the Bison only needed 11 seconds to strike. Caldwell looked to get the handoff from quarterback Issac Rumery, however the read-option went back to the sophomore quarterback, and he looked long. Across the middle was Micah Heichel, who hauled in the 58-yard pass and never looked back. An early touchdown and extra point, and it was already 7-0.
“Being able to stop them there, and then come out to throw a touchdown pass on the first play really set the tone for us,” Janocko said.
After forcing a punt on the next drive, the Bison offense took their time on the next possession, taking 8 plays and going 65 yards down the field. However, it wasn’t without a little bit of controversy. On Caldwell’s first carry, a 35-yard strike, after the play was over a Bald Eagle defender got into it with Bison lineman Hunter Bumbarger, connecting on a punch to the helmet. Flags went flying, and the Bison sideline was irate. Even the workers moving the chains got into it a bit with Janocko, and the officials called them over to get everyone under control.
Four plays later, Caldwell called his own number on a direct snap for his first score of the game. Josh Serena’s kick made it 14-0.
Then Clearfield got the ball back, immediately. Serena’s kickoff nailed one of the Eagle defenders on the line, and immediately the Bison pounced on it, causing the first turnover. Janocko was glad for the takeaway, but that wasn’t how he drew it up.
“That wasn’t planned, we were just trying to squib the ball, but it worked,” he said.
The second quarter did not start off well again for the Eagles. Tanner Kresovich took his 1st-and-10 play and looked downfield, but the pass wound up in the hands of Clearfield’s Ryan Lezzer. The second turnover led to Clearfield points once again as Caldwell would cap the drive with his second touchdown of the game. Another extra point, and the rout seemed to be on.
The next drive for Bald Eagle saw the same result, but this time it was a fumble by Kresovich that caused the change in possession. Clearfield wouldn’t get any points on the following drive, but Peyton Priester made sure the home team would have to earn a score as his punt was downed at the two-yard line.
Two plays later, Austin Young had the ball punched from his grasp. The loose fumble bounced into the end zone, where Kresovich picked it up, but was immediately on the ground. The result, a safety, and Clearfield’s lead expanded to 23-0, with a free kick coming.
The Eagle offense gained 101 yards on the ground, but the Bison kept them in check with a mere 135 yards total on the night.
The drive following the free kick was all about Rumery, who handled the ball on five of the six plays, including the touchdown pass to Lezzer from one yard out. Another extra point, and it was 30-0, where it remained into halftime.
Caldwell was quick to talk about Rumery’s play, and how it opens up the team’s offense because of his versatility.
“That really sets the tone for us. We have a great quarterback that can both run and pass, and what it comes down to is being effective,” he said of his starter. Rumery would end the night rushing for 48 yards, and passing for 151 including the two scores.
Unfortunately for Rumery, he also saw the negative side of the ball as on the first play of the third quarter, he was picked off by Young.
Neither team found much momentum in the third quarter until the Bison took over with 9:19 remaining in the frame. Caldwell and Rumery started the drive, but it was Luke McGonigal that puncuated it on the final three plays. His third-and-goal score put Clearfield up for good, and the extra point ensured a running clock for the remainder of the game.
No scoring would come in the fourth quarter as the Bison let the underclassmen take to the field and get some experience.
The night was all about Caldwell, but also the team achieved its goal of achieving the Mountain League championship thanks to their defeat of Central earlier this season. With two games left in the regular season, plus the post season, Caldwell still has aspirations of breaking the all-time Clearfield Bison rushing record of 4639 yards, held by Dave Richards. He is just over 250 yards away from overtaking his former teammate, Christian Lezzer, for second place in yards rushing.
But for Janocko, it’s not about the record, it’s about the person Caldwell has become
“He’s an outstanding young man…Congratulations to him,” he said.
Clearfield returns home next Friday night to host Philipsburg-Osceola (0-8), who’s coming off of a 56-15 loss against Huntington in the final game played at Memorial Field.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 14 16 7 0 – 37
Bald Eagle Area 0 0 0 0 – 0
BISON: 58-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Serena kick), 10:07
BISON: 1-yard run by Caldwell (Serena kick), 4:37
BISON: 2-yard run by Caldwell (Serena kick), 10:31
BISON: Safety, 4:18
BISON: 1-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Serena kick), 1:40
BISON: 1-yard run by McGonigal (Serena kick), 6:19
Clearfield/Bald Eagle Area
First Downs: 12/8
Rushing Yards: 130/92
Passing Yards: 151/43
Total Yards: 281/135
Time of Possession: 28:05/19:55
Clearfield: Caldwell-19 carries, 59 yards, 2 TD; Rumery-11 carries, 48 yards; Bender-5 carries, 20 yards; McGonigal-3 carries, 6 yards, TD; Lazauskas-2 carries, 5 yards; Zattoni-2 carries, (-7) yards; Lezzer-1 carry, 0 yards; TEAM-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Bald Eagle: Kresovich-8 carries, 48 yards; Roberts-6 carries, 30 yards; Young-5 carries, 20 yards; Dubbs-4 carries, 0 yards; McClenahan-3 carries, 1 yard; Hockenberry-2 carries, 5 yards; Jones-1 carry, (-2) yards; TEAM-1 carry, (-8) yards.
Clearfield: Rumery-9 for 16, 151 yards, 2 TD, INT.
Bald Eagle: Kresovich-4 for 10, 26 yards, INT; Jones-2 for 9, 17 yards, INT; Bucha-0 for 1, INT.
Clearfield: Heichel-4 catches, 93 yards, TD; Lezzer-4 catches, 50 yards, TD; Lynch-1 catch, 8 yards.
Bald Eagle: McClenahan-3 catches, 5 yards; Henry-2 catches, 21 yards; Bechdel-1 catch, 26 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|
|10/07||@ Tyrone||22 – 3||6 – 1|
|10/14||@ Bald Eagle Area||37 – 0||7 – 1|