BELLEFONTE — On a night where the fall air for a time turned into a feeling of April showers, it was all about one player when the final whistle blew. The Clearfield Bison, fresh off a much-needed win against Central Mountain last week, stayed on the road to face off against a surprisingly strong and tough Bellefonte Red Raider team that held a 4-1 record after the midway point of the season.
On this night, though, the Bison were overcome with the offense of one player.
Red Raider quarterback Dylan Deitrich, despite playing the game with a foot injury he is still recovering from, put up numbers that overwhelmed the Bison defense. His night ended by accounting for seven of Bellefonte’s eight touchdowns and over 300 yards of total offense, which Clearfield had no answer for.
Bellefonte blasted the Bison defense early, and often, to achieve its fifth victory of the season via a 55-28 final, the first time Bellefonte has beaten Clearfield since 2007.
Head coach Tim Janocko afterwards was dumbfounded when speaking to reporters.
“This is a tough conference. Everyone is good this year, and Bellefonte is much improved,” he said. “Turnovers killed us tonight. It is what it is.
“We’re not making any excuses. We’ll get back to work on Monday.”
Neither team found much offense going in the first quarter, mainly thanks to turnovers. Clearfield opened the game by receiving the kickoff afrer Bellefonte deferred to the second half. But, they didn’t wait long to get the ball for their first drive thanks to the game’s first giveaway. C.J. Funk halted a strong opening drive by the Bison with his interception of Isaac Rumery, giving Bellefonte possession at their own 32-yard line.
Two plays later, Bellefonte gave it right back when Clearfield recovered a fumble at the Bellefonte 30. Sadly, that possession ended on downs with just over eight minutes remaining in the first quarter.
By this time the skies decided to play a role on the game. It was forecasted that there was a chance of rain throughout the early part of the evening, and the meteorologists were right on. However, they were not accurate in how severe it would be. The field suddenly became a monsoon, as heavy rain and wind pelted the field and the players. Officials did everything they could to keep the football dry, but that was a moot effort.
Clearfield coughed up the ball deep in their own territory, giving Bellefonte an extremely short field with less than three minutes to go.
That was when Deitrich’s night would begin.
On 3rd and Goal, Deitrich found a gap in the Bison defense for a quick two-yard rumble to open the scoring. Chris Persiko booted the extra point as the rain continued to come down, but it was enough to give the Red Raiders the opening 7-0 lead.
Clearfield answered right back when Rummery managed to compile a strong drive that culminated with him finding Micah Heichel for a 30-yard catch and run for the Bison’s opening touchdown. At the end of the first quarter, thanks to Jake Sorbera’s extra point, it was a tie ball game.
The second quarter started out ultimately exactly like the first, with neither team finding footing until just over three minutes remained in the half. Deitrich once again found himself as the man to score as he handled the ball on all four running plays of the drive, plus completed a key pass to Cade Fortney, that put Bellefonte in scoring position again. With 3:24 left, Deitrich punched the ball into the end zone from 17-yards out to again put the home team ahead. Persiko’s extra point fell short of the cross bar, but the lead still held at 13-7.
Clearfield needed a spark, and after being forced to punt on their next drive, the Bison defense stepped up huge. More specifically, the special teams defense.
After holding Bellefonte to a three-and-out, Clearfield’s Eli Glass broke through the punt team’s front line, and got his hands up to block the ensuing punt. The recovery came at the Bellefonte 9, and put some life back into the visiting sidelines.
Clearfield used the short field quickly when Rumery scampered in on the first play from scrimmage, tying up the game. But then Sorbera was again true through the uprights, putting Clearfield ahead 14-13 with just under two minutes to play.
That ultimately would be the only time Clearfield saw the lead.
At the same time, Bellefonte saw Deitrich come to the sidelines, still in pain from his earlier injury in the season. Nick Paloskey, who started the season as Bellefonte’s quarterback, took over duties as quarterback on what ultimately was Bellefonte’s final drive of the half. It was Paloskey’s first offensive action since the opening week due to appendicitis, and it was a drive that saw him punch it in from a yard out. At the half, it was 20-14, with Bellefonte set to receive the third quarter kickoff.
Coming out of the break, it was clear Deitrich was ready to head back onto the field, and when he did, it was clear that this game was Bellefonte’s time to shine.
Bellefonte’s opening drive of the third quarter saw Deitrich connect with Ryan Smith from 17-yards out for the first passing touchdown by the Red Raiders on the night. Another extra point, and it was quickly a two-score gap. That gap then extended more when the Red Raiders found the end zone again thanks to Deitrich’s legs on a five-yard scamper on a drive that began with Rumery tossing his second interception of the game, this one to Stephen Kutches. With just under six minutes to go in the third quarter, Clearfield was looking at a 34-14 deficit, and little time to make it up.
But he was not done yet.
Following another Bison turnover, the fourth on the night, Deitrich got his legs moving quickly for a 30-yard sprint for the end zone. Another Persiko PAT, and it was a 30-point gap with under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Clearfield finally got on the scoreboard to end the 27-0 run by Bellefonte thanks to Rumery connecting for a second time with Heichel for a six-yard touchdown. By the time the third quarter ended, Clearfield was still looking up at a 41-21 deficit.
But as positive as that drive was for Clearfield, Rumery saw the next Clearfield drive end quickly when he threw his third interception of the game, one that was deep in the red zone and halted a positive drive for the Bison.
Deitrich again made his presence known in the fourth quarter following the turnover when he proved his injury was still painful, but wasn’t slowing him down. The star of the night broke through the Bison defensive front, then the linebackers, and finally the secondary for his longest score of the night. The 57-yard sprint, and the ensuing extra point, put the Red Raiders up 48-21 with just under six minutes remaining.
Still, Rumery wanted to make a positive out of a tough night, and he did that on the first play following the kickoff.
Rumery connected with junior Caleb Freeland, who outran the entire Red Raider defense for his first career receiving touchdown, a 65-yard pitch and catch. Sorbera hit the extra point, but the 20-point gap remained.
The final score of the night, not surprising, came thanks to the legs of Deitrich, who put the final exclamation point on a career night with a 7-yard run into the end zone, his sixth rushing touchdown of the night, and seventh overall.
Janocko’s team now sits at .500 on the year once more, but also now has three losses in the regular season for the first time since entering the Mountain League back in 2004. Although the night did not go as he hoped for his team, Janocko was quick to praise Bellefonte in the effort, and looked ahead to what was left on the season for his own squad.
“We still may see this team again (in playoffs). I saw some bright spots tonight, but that’s a good team over there,” he said. “But we need to get back to work. We have four games left this year, and we’re going to try and win all four.”
Clearfield returns home to start the month of October to host the Golden Eagles of Tyrone, who defeated Bald Eagle in a close 27-19 game on Friday night. Kickoff at the Bison Sports Complex is at 7 p.m.
*Game and individual statistics will be available once all statistics are received.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 7 7 7 7 – 28
Bellefonte 7 13 21 14 – 55
RED RAIDERS: 2-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick)
BISON: 30-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick)
RED RAIDERS: 16-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick short)
BISON: 9-yard run by Rumery (Sorbera kick)
RED RAIDERS: 1-yard run by Paloskey (Persiko kick)
RED RAIDERS: 17-yard pass from Deitrich to Smith (Persiko kick)
RED RAIDERS: 5-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick)
RED RAIDERS: 30-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick)
BISON: 6-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick)
RED RAIDERS: 57-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick)
BISON: 65-yard pass from Rumery to Freeland (Sorbera kick)
RED RAIDERS: 7-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick)
|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|
|09/29||@ Bellefonte||28 – 55||3 – 3|
|10/13||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|10/27||@ Karns City|