MILL HALL — After having to deal with the heartache of back-to-back losses thanks to Central and Huntingdon, head coach Tim Janocko and his Clearfield Bison squad had to figure out a way to rebound in a big way with the midpoint of the season beginning the same day the Autumn equinox would begin.
They needed to get back on the winning track not only to get back in the race in the Mountain League, but to be above the .500-mark on the season, something Janocko has not seen in a very long time.
This week it was a trip out to Mill Hall to face the Wildcats of Central Mountain on a night where it felt more like early summer instead of the first day of fall.
What ended up falling was the Wildcat defense thanks to some big plays from the Bison offense. Three of the Bison scores were massive bulk-yardage plays to put them in front, and ultimately hold that lead right up to the final whistle, where Janocko saw his team back on the winning track in a 49-10 thrashing of Central Mountain.
“It’s a building block and we took another step forward with a young team,” Janocko said after. “To go on the road and beat a Five-A team, do a lot of good things, have a lot of kids step up in a lot of different positions; it is something to build on.”
It was a slow start for both squads as neither team saw much success through the first 11 minutes of action. But then quarterback Isaac Rumery decided to show off his weapons, both with his ability and his teammate. On a 2nd and 9 from the Bison 39, the third drive for Clearfield of the opening quarter, Rumery looked over the left side of the field to see Micah Heichel get behind the Wildcat secondary. The rocket arm of Rumery led to a perfectly placed pass reception for his wide out, and a 61-yard strike to stun the opposition. Jake Sorbera barely got the extra point over the cross bar, but it still meant a 7-0 lead heading into the second stanza.
The Bison defense then did its job by forcing the Wildcats to their fourth consecutive three-and-out, giving the Bison offense strong field position barely a minute into the second quarter.
If it was good the first time, it was just as sweet a second time as on a 2nd and 13 from the Wildcat 48, Rumery and Heichel hooked up a second time for the game’s second touchdown. The 14-0 score was looking good for the visiting squad, and Rumery seemed to find his groove.
The junior signal-caller ended the night completing 12 of 17 passes, 268 yards through the air, no interceptions, and four touchdowns. He would also account for one rushing touchdown.
But, just as quickly as the Bison felt the momentum swing heavily in their favor, the Wildcats also had big-play potential. On the first play from scrimmage following the second Bison touchdown, Rocco Stark found a gap in the Bison defense, and when he cut to the left, not one player in a white jersey was catching him. His 75-yard blast to the end zone, followed by Austyn Carson booting the extra point, cut the gap in half.
After that long run, Clearfield’s defense buckled down. That 75-yard run accounted for nearly half of the Wildcat offensive output as they finished with just 203 yards in the game, compared to the Bison’s 471. Janocko knew why his team was able to keep the Central Mountain offense in check compared to the previous two weeks.
“I think we tackled a lot better. That’s a credit to the kids because we had another great week of practice,” he said. “We’re young, so we are going to take some baby steps backwards. But we’re also taking massive steps forward. Tonight was a big step forward.”
Clearfield again managed to find the end zone in the second quarter, this time when Luke McGonigal took the handoff from 15-yards out to scamper in for a touchdown.
The Bison kept the Wildcats from the end zone the remainder of the second quarter, but couldn’t prevent the scoring as Carson was able to add on a 36-yard field goal late in the half to make the score 21-10 at the break.
Once the two teams took to the field for the second half, there was no doubt about who was the dominant team on this night.
It only took three plays for Clearfield to find the end zone again, and it was another familiar situation because it was Rumery once again making a deep pass down the sidelines. This time it was not Heichel making the grab. Instead, it was the speedy and slender Taye Lynch who hauled in a 68-yard bomb to add on a fourth touchdown for Clearfield.
As for the Wildcats, nothing was heading in their favor after halftime. Central Mountain held the ball for just over six minutes total in the second half, and yielded a total of 39 yards over that time. Three of their four drives ended in three-and-out, with two going for negative yardage.
Clearfield found the end zone two more times in the third quarter. The first came on a 7-yard run by Rumery with 5:14 remaining, then right when the clock read all zeroes, Rumery connected with Spencer Graham on a quick two-yard strike. At the end of three quarters, it was 42-10, and it was clear the first-team offense was done for the night.
The remaining drive for Clearfield was utilizing the second-team offense to close out the night, and Brett Zattoni made sure it ended on a high note as he scored his first career touchdown on a 10-yard rumble with just over a minute remaining in the game. Zach Hess then added on the final point of the night, closing out a near perfect night for the Bison.
At 3-2, the midway point of the season has seen the Bison mature as a team, and also seemed to gain an identity. Janocko feels his team has improved a lot more than just in the game play.
“I think the kids are beginning to believe in themselves. It’s a long season, but to be 3-2 at the midpoint of the season is a good accomplishment,” Janocko said. “I’d like to be 5-0, but we’re not, however we’re building.
But he also knows the season isn’t over, and anything can still happen in the second part of the regular season, stating ,”As I said last week, it’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon.”
Clearfield is back on the road next week against Bellefonte.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 7 14 21 7 – 49
Central Mountain 0 10 0 0 – 10
BISON: 61-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick), 0:08
BISON: 48-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick), 9:37
WILDCATS: 75-yard run by Stark (Carson kick), 9:26
BISON: 15-yard run by McGonigal (Sorbera kick), 5:57
WILDCATS: 37-yard field goal by Carson, 0:50
BISON: 68-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Sorbera kick), 11:23
BISON: 7-yard run by Rumery (Sorbera kick), 5:14
BISON: 2-yard pass from Rumery to Graham (Sorbera kick), 0:00
BISON: 10-yard run by Zattoni (Hess kick), 1:28
First Downs: 15/5
Rush Yards: 203/173
Pass Yards: 268/30
Total Yards: 471/203
Time Of Possession: 27:43/20:17
Clearfield: Zattoni-12 carries, 54 yards, TD; Bender-11 carries, 80 yards; McGonigal-8 carries, 39 yards, TD; Rumery-8 carries, 26 yards, TD; Kline-1 carry, 3 yards.Lezzer-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Central Mountain: Carson-15 carries, 79 yards; Andrus-5 carries, 15 yards; Stark-4 carries, 87 yards, TD; Weaver-4 carries, 12 yards; Team-2 carries, (-16) yards; Probst-1 carry, (-4) yards.
Clearfield: Rumery-12 for 17, 268 yards, 4 TD.
Central Mountain: Carson-3 for 7, 30 yards.
Clearfield: Heichel-2 catches, 109 yards, 2 TD; McGonigal-3 catches, 45 yards; Lynch-2 catches, 83 yards, TD; Graham-2 catches, 14 yards, TD; Lezzer-2 catches, 13 yards; Freeland-1 catch, 15 yards.
Central Mountain: Prough-1 catch, 17 yards; Corl-1 catch, 4 yards; Stark-1 catch, (-1) 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||49 – 10||3 – 2|
|10/13||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|10/27||@ Karns City|