HYDE — In the hopes to avoid falling behind the .500 mark and to keeping their post-season hope in sight, the Clearfield Bison knew some home cooking was needed. After a pair of games in Mill Hall and Bellefonte, the Bison finally got the chance to get back home at the Bison Sports Complex to start the month of October.
The first of those games would come against a team that over the years has given Clearfield fits and has on occasion nearly cost the black and red squad a perfect season. Making the trip from about an hour south was the Tyrone Golden Eagles, ready to play upset and make a playoff run much more challenging.
However, the only run that was coming on this night came from a Bison running back.
It was a night where Ty Bender used his legs to burn the Tyrone secondary, while the Bison defense caused chaos for the Golden Eagles on nearly every down, and every drive. At the final whistle, Bender’s legs were tired, but they became a driving force that helped Clearfield achieve a 35-7 triumph.
“We wanted to be a little more balanced, and we worked hard on it. Big credit to our offensive line, and I thought Ty Bender had an excellent game,” Tim Janocko said afterwards. “He’s the kind of back I thought he could be, and tonight he proved it.
That night for Bender saw him with the ball tucked in his arm 22 times, finishing with 168 yards on the ground, with one score.
What got the Bison rolling off the bat was the defense, who was looking to get back on track following the throttling they experienced a week ago at the hands of Bellefonte.
The opening drive of the game saw Tyrone drive down into Clearfield territory, but stall at the 20-yard line with a 3rd and 10. Golden Eagles’ quarterback Parker Mitchell found himself at the mercy of the Bison defensive line, and heaved a pass towards the end zone. That is when the Bison secondary relied on what is more seen in basketball: a jump ball. At the high point, Spencer Graham went up and in the end zone, came down with the interception, immediately putting a halt to a promising drive, and giving Clearfield early momentum.
At the same time, the Bison offense suddenly found itself needing some momentum. After driving near midfield, quarterback Isaac Rumery took a 2nd and 8 for a decent gain nearly to the 50, but then saw him immediately stay down on the ground.
The silence in the crowd was intense, wondering what was happening. But, Rumery got up, and slowly walked off the field with the trainer to get looked at.
Two plays later, Rumery walked back onto the field following a long run by Bender. Then, on a 3rd and Goal from the 5, Rumery was flushed to his left as he looked to pass, then worked back to the right still looking for a receiver. He let a pass go, and in the back of the end zone was Jacob Lezzer, pulling down the first touchdown of the game. The extra point from Jake Sorbera split the uprights, and the score was 7-0, where it remained for a majority of the first quarter.
Rumery was not passing the ball as much on this night, finishing with a stat line of seven completions of 10 attempts, for just 90 yards. But, no turnovers and three touchdowns meant he had an efficient night.
Janocko afterwards addressed what happened to Rumery when he went down, but also on how he recovered, stating, “He has a high ankle sprain, but he’s a trooper and warrior.”
Tyrone’s second drive of the quarter had the same feeling of having promise. Yet, in an ironic twist of fate, had an exact similar end, although from a different jersey.
Mitchell swept again to his left, and found himself under even more pressure and let the ball go loose quicker than he wanted. The warped spiral then found its way into the hands of Micah Heichel, who somehow kept the ball off the turf to bring in the second turnover of the game.
The second Bison drive focused on the run, and quickly got off to a sprint when Bender broke through the Tyrone defense on the right side, roaring up the Golden Eagle sideline for 66 yards and put Clearfield in the red zone to start the second quarter. Bender then punched his way into the scoring column on a 1-yard push. Sorbera’s kick added in made it 14-0 barely into the second quarter.
Janocko spoke highly of his defense and the chaos they caused early in the ball game, showing some maturity after being shredded one week ago by the Red Raiders.
“Big stops (by the defense). That’s what happens when you get turnovers, you have to capitalize. We were able to do that with three big interceptions,” he said. “I think our kids took a step forward tonight. I think we’re starting to grow a little bit.”
Clearfield’s defense forced a three-and-out on Tyrone’s next posession, but after seeing the success of the offense, and the lock-down ability defensively, the special teams now had their chance to make an impact.
Mitchel punted the ball from the 41 of Tyrone, with Graham then pulling in the ball at his own 20. The young man read his blocks down the right side and found an opening. Graham almost broke it the entire length until a shoe-string tackle brought him down at the Tyrone 19, setting up Clearfield with an extremely short field, and a lot of time to work.
“Spencer made a great play on it with a great run, and Jake Lezzer had a great block also,” Janocko said on the punt return.
A lot of time wasn’t in the cards for Clearfield, because on the second play of the drive, Rumery hammered home his second touchdown of the night from 19 yards away when he connected with Heichel. One more extra point, and the 21-0 score seemed to be an omen for the opposition.
Tyrone had some big momentum on the final drive of the half, pushing inside the Bison 10-yard line. But, on 1st and goal, Mitchel was dropped for a loss, then had to take a spike to stop the clock as Tyrone had used all of their timeouts. On 3rd and goal, Mitchell went to pass, and instead of finding six points, he found the Bison secondary denying him once again, this time thanks to Taye Lynch, who forced the third turnover of the half, keeping Tyrone off the scoreboard for the first 24 minutes.
Unlike the first half, the second half got off to a slow start for both squads, trading a pair of three-and-outs that ran down nearly half the clock. It wasn’t until Clearfield converted a key fourth down when Rumery completed a 16-yard pass to Caleb Freeland when the Bison began chipping away at the Golden Eagles. The drive finished with 4:23 left in the third quarter when Rumery hit his final touchdown pass, this one to Eli Glass from 11 yards out.
The rout was on heading into the fourth quarter, but Tyrone wasn’t backing down despite the lopsided score.
Mitchell used both his arm, his legs, and his teammates on Tyrone’s first possession of the final quarter to chip away at the defense, culminating with Mitchel himself plunging in from a yard out midway through the final stanza to put the Golden Eagles on the board. One extra point and the gap was reduced to 28-7.
It did not stay that way for long as Clearfield finished off the scoring when Rumery concluded a seven-play drive that began following a failed onside kick to the Tyrone 44, by pushing his way into the end zone from one yard out. Sorbera’s final extra point culminated the score, and sealed the win for Clearfield.
Now at 4-3, Clearfield still has a chance to improve on its points heading into the post season, and faces a key test next week. The Bison have one remaining regular season game inside the grandstands and fencing at the Clearfield Junior-Senior High School when Bald Eagle Area comes into town next Friday night, a game Janocko knows is critical for both the team, and the future of the season.
“They (Bald Eagle) are still a good football team coming in here next week. It’s senior night, so I hope we can take another step forward for us,” he said.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. with senior recognition of the football team, cheerleaders, and band members happening prior to the game.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Tyrone 0 0 0 7 – 7
Clearfield 7 14 7 7 – 35
BISON: 5-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Sorbera kick), 4:29
BISON: 1-yard run by Bender (Sorbera kick), 10:10
BISON: 19-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick), 7:32
BISON: 11-yard pass from Rumery to Glass (Sorbera kick), 4:23
GOLDEN EAGLES: 1-yard run by Mitchell (Vipond kick), 6:13
BISON: 1-yard run by Rumery (Sorbera kick), 2:25
First Downs: 15/10
Rush Yards: 132/203
Pass Yards: 106/90
Total Yards: 238/293
Time of Possession: 25:37/22:23
Tyrone: Loose-26 carries, 121 yards; Mitchell-14 carries, 66 yards, TD; Team-1 carry, (-6) yards.
Clearfield: Bender-22 carries, 167 yards, TD; McGonigal-6 carries, 33 yards; Rumery-6 carries, 2 yards, TD; Zattoni-1 carry, 6 yards; Team-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Tyrone: Mitchell-6 for 15, 106 yards, 3 INT; Team-0 for 1.
Clearfield: Rumery-7 for 10, 90 yards, 3 TD.
Tyrone: Hicks-2 catches, 14 yards; Lehman-1 catch 34 yards; Loose-1 catch, 29 yards; Reader-1 catch, 15 yards; Albright-1 catch, 14 yards.
Clearfield: Heichel-2 catches, 40 yards, TD; Freeland-2 catches, 34 yards; Lezzer-2 catches, 12 yards, TD; Glass-1 catch, 11 yards, TD.
|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|
|10/06||TYRONE||35 – 7||4 – 3|
|10/13||BALD EAGLE AREA|
|10/27||@ Karns City|