HYDE — Homecoming festivities in Clearfield are one of the most popular times of the year. It brings out a larger crowd, and many past alumni return to the area to reminisce about years past while also witnessing the future of the school and community.
The Alumni Band took to the field once more to play the alma mater right along with the current Bison Band, a moment that is always loved among the fans. There was even a moment of silence prior to the game to honor the late Ray Walker, who passed away in June at the age of 104, as he was the first band director for the Clearfield School district.
All of this came before the Bison football team took to the field.
Even with the homecoming festivities set for halftime, the lead focus among everyone was how the Bison would play following last week’s defeat at Central. This week’s test was just as difficult, as the 3-0 Bearcats of Huntingdon were out to show their will and ability against the home squad.
The Bearcats not only asserted their will, but did so quickly, and just as quickly showed who the tougher team was. Despite all the effort, Clearfield’s homecoming night was spoiled as Huntingdon literally ran over the Bison to achieve the 42-27 victory.
Head coach Tim Janocko was quick to praise Huntingdon for their game and ability after the game, noting that what he’s been saying for weeks was a reality.
“A couple times in the red zone we could’ve put it in and had a chance to maybe win. But we didn’t make it down there in the third quarter,” Janocko said. “Huntingdon is a really good football team. I’ve said we were going to play two good football teams, and we did. We were shocked a little bit last week, and got shocked again in the first half tonight.”
Janocko mentioned the first half, when in fact it was the first play that set the tone.
After getting strong field position from the opening kickoff, Ian Border took the handoff to the right side, and shed tacklers before getting into the open field directly down the Bison sideline. One play and 20 seconds is all it took for the first score of the night. An extra point by Giovan Scaccia and it was already 7-0.
Border’s big night was just getting started, but he also let his teammates get in on the action. Following the Bison’s opening possession, a three-and-out, Border took the fake handoff from quarterback Andrew Hudy and saw Jonathan Price run the exact same way he did. Although he did not get in the end zone, Price flipped the field position from the Bearcat 36 to just inside the Bison 10, and was looking for more. Border then punched it in from five yards away two plays later. Two touchdowns in, and not even three minutes clicked off the clock, and the 14-0 score was on the board.
Border’s night started off big, and ultimately ended up huge. He led all offensive statistics with 287 yards rushing on 23 carries, an average of just over 12 yards per touch.
“He’s a great football player; we knew that going in. He runs through tackles. We have some young kids, and I keep saying it, but we’ve got some young kids playing on the defensive side of the ball,” Janocko said of Border.
However, Clearfield decided to also get in on the fun on the next drive.
After tossing an incomplete pass intended for Micah Heichel, Isaac Rumery saw the Bearcat defense leave the middle of the field wide open on the next play. He would cut left, right, and used his speed to get past the secondary for an impressive 66-yard touchdown sprint. Jake Sorbera put the extra point through the uprights to cut the lead down to a single score, but it would not stay that way for long.
Hudy once again found success in the air, completing a pair of passes to Price and Jacob Wagner. On 1st and 10, Border decided to not show speed, but power, as he not only avoided tacklers, he spun out of four and pulled a couple Bison linebackers with him for a 20-yard run that ended across the goal line. The third Bearcats touchdown quickly made the score 21-7, and there was still just under nine minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The final score of the opening quarter came when Hudy decided to trust his arm instead of the legs of Border, but saw the same result. His 20-yard connection to Price added the first passing touchdown for Huntingdon, and with Scaccia’s extra point, it was 28-7 entering the second quarter.
Clearfield finally led a sustained drive that began at 3:30 left in the first quarter, and lasted just into the second quarter thanks to nine methodical and intelligent plays called in from the sidelines. Rumery ended the drive with a strike to Heichel just beyond the goal line for his first passing touchdown of the night. Sorbera’s right leg cut the lead in half once again, but the Bison still were trying to make up for what they couldn’t complete in the first quarter.
Rumery statistically had a strong night, tossing for 323 yards through the air, an additional 82 yards on the ground, and accounted for four total touchdowns.
Neither team found the end zone for the rest of the first half, however the scoring wasn’t done as Scaccia managed to conclude the final Bearcat drive of the first half with a 30-yard field goal to make the score 31-14.
Clearfield managed to put together an extremely successful drive at the end of the first half. But time was running low and Rumery only had a prayer throw left in him. That throw was intercepted by Alex Mykut and the Bison hit the locker room down by three scores.
At halftime the homecoming festivities went off without any trouble, and the students that were chosen by their peers were all eager to see if they were among the top three to be honored.
When the time came to reveal this year’s 2017 Homecoming Queen, the shock on the face of Talitha Narehood said it all because she was surprised to hear her name called over the speakers. But that shock soon changed to excitement and honor, as she placed the sash across her shoulder, and the crown on her head. Friends, family, and the student body all came over to honor the new queen, all while the Bison came out to warm up for the second half.
In a shock from both sides, neither team added any points to their total for the third quarter. However, Janocko saw his team make strides following the break. Beginning at their own 25, the Bison methodically and willingly showed what they do best…work the clock, and wear out the defense.
Unfortunately for the Bison, that drive began to sputter just inside the opposing five-yard line. With just one short bit to gain, Brett Zattoni took Rumery’s give and went right into the heart of the Bearcats. But, Huntingdon’s heart was still beating, and he was stuffed just over a foot away from the line to gain. The promising drive came to a half, and now the Bearcats finally had the ball back.
“I thought we got better in the second half. We moved the ball, but didn’t stick it in a couple times when we needed to,” Janocko said. “It’s tough to dig out of a hole, but we clawed our way back in. We still continued to come back, score, and make plays.”
Clearfield’s next drive that led into the fourth quarter ended when Rumery was looking for Taye Lynch, but instead found Price taking the ball away from him, one of two interceptions on the night.
Huntingdon made the BIson pay as new quarterback Nick Troha made his first, and ultimately only, pass of the night to Price, and it was on target. His lone pass went for 62 yards and a touchdown that put the game out of reach. Another extra point meant with 9:15 left in the game, Clearfield had to overcome a 24-point gap if they wanted to keep things interesting.
But, the Bison spirit wasn’t dead yet, as Rumery saved his best throw for the next drive, connecting with Jacob Lezzer, the younger brother of a pair of famous Lezzer brothers that played for the Bison, Christian and Ryan, for his own 62-yard strike that nearly went all the way to the end zone. Had it not been for a late tackle, it would have.
Instead, Rumery found Spencer Graham on the next play for a quick three-yard strike. Janocko elected to go for two points, but saw the pass to Lynch get batted away, leaving the score 38-20 with 8:44 remaining.
Huntingdon decided to play keep away at that moment, and did so by running the Wildcat offense. Hudy took a spot at wide receiver, while Border took the snaps.
The lone time that idea didn’t work was when the snap on a 1st and 10 at the Bison 36 went over the head of Border. Luckily he reacted quickly enough to cover the fumble and save the drive.
But, he recovered in a big way on the next drive when he took the handoff, worked through the middle of the Bison defense, shed and even dragged tacklers, and then rumbled into the end zone for his fourth and final touchdown of the night. The 45-20 score was enough for most coaches to let the second team offense earn some playing time.
But, Janocko kept the starting offense on the field because even though he knew the outcome, he wasn’t just going to lay down. That was beneficial as the Bison found the end zone one last time when Rumery connected with Luke McGonigal from 20 yards out.
Now sitting two games behind the lead in the Mountain League, Janocko knows there is still a lot of work to be done to keep pace. But he also knows his team is going to continue to battle every week, and the entire Clearfield community will be there to keep the spirits of the team high no matter what the situation calls for.
“It’s something we can build on. It’s still a long season. We’ll keep working hard and get better,” he said. “It’s a football town. It’s wonderful, and we’ll continue to get support. We’ll keep working hard, and keep getting better.”
Clearfield will take its 2-2 record on the road next week to face another cat, the Wildcats of Central Mountain. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Huntingdon 28 3 0 14 – 45
Clearfield 7 7 0 13 – 27
BEARCATS: 54-yard run by Border (Scaccia kick), 11:40
BEARCATS: 5-yard run by Border (Scaccia kick), 9:26
BISON: 60-yard run by Rumery (Sorbera kick), 9:05
BEARCATS: 27-yard run by Border (Scaccia kick), 8:40
BEARCATS: 20-yard pass from Hudy to Price (Scaccia kick)
BISON: 8-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick), 11:08
BEARCATS: 30-yard field goal by Scaccia, 2:57
BEARCATS: 62-yard pass from Troha to Price (Scaccia kick), 9:15
BISON: 3-yard pass from Rumery to Graham (Rumery pass FAILED), 8:44
BISON: 20-yard pass from Rumery to McGonigal (Sorbera kick), 0:26
First Downs: 13/22
Rushing Yards: 385/167
Passing Yards: 139/323
Total Yards: 524/490
Time of Possession: 22:58/25:02
Huntingdon: Border-23 carries, 287 yards, 4 TD; Hudy-5 carries, 43 yards; Weglarz-4 carries, 6 yards; Team-2 carries, (-12) yards; Price-1 carry, 56 yards; Zook-1 carry, 4 yards.
Clearfield: Bender-15 carries, 72 yards; Rumery-11 carries, 83 yards, TD; Zattoni-5 carries, 12 yards; McGonigal-1 carry, 0 yards.
Huntingdon: Hudy-6 for 13, 77 yards, TD, INT; Troha-1 for 1, 62 yards, TD.
Clearfield: Rumery-23 for 41, 323 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT.
Huntingdon: Price- 5 catches, 108 yards, 2 TD; Wagner-2 catches, 31 yards.
Clearfield: Heichel-10 catches, 119 yards, TD; Lynch-4 catches, 52 yards; Graham-4 catches, 39 yards, TD; Lezzer-3 catches, 87 yards; McGonigal-1 catch, 20 yards, TD; Freeland-1 catch, 9 yards.
|08/25||DUBOIS||21 – 0||1 – 0|
|09/01||PENNS VALLEY||42 – 12||2 – 0|
|09/08||@ Central||14 – 42||2 – 1|
|09/15||HUNTINGDON||27 – 45||2 – 2|
|09/22||@ Central Mountain|
|10/13||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|10/27||@ Karns City|