HYDE — The last home game of the year is special for high school students. It’s the last time at their field where the team is clad in the colors of their school, and the last time of the year where the lights shine bright on the green turf or grass. It’s a moment where parents join their sons, and daughters, to honor their accomplishments.
But it’s still a night where a game takes place, and the focus is the play on the field.
The Clearfield Bison now had that night upon them. This Friday the 13th was a celebration of the senior class that got to experience championships, victories, and moments they will never forget. Although small in number, the senior class contributed to the success of the program, with each earning their own memories along the way. They then rejoined their teammates, and got themselves focused on the game at hand, as the Bison hosted the very strong, and balanced, Bald Eagles of Bald Eagle Area.
It seemed as though early on, the game would come down to the last second, and in a way that was right. But, it was mistakes that ultimately did one team in.
Sadly for Clearfield, that team was them.
A night where despite gaining more yards, more first downs, and having more time of possession, what did them in was turnovers and penalties. When the clock read all zeroes, the Bison seniors saw their final home loss of the season, a heartbreaking 25-22 final that they know could easily have gone the other way.
“Turnovers and penalties. We shot ourselves in the foot. We have no one to blame but ourselves, all of us, even me,” Head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards. “Kids played hard, but we can’t turn the ball over.”
The game possibly would have been a game of give away. Clearfield suffered four turnovers on the night, three fumbles and one interception. Bald Eagle at the same time had five fumbles, a muffed kickoff return, and a muffed lateral. The difference was that Bald Eagle was able to maintain possession after their miscues, while Clearfield wound up on the wrong side of theirs.
Clearfield started the night on the right foot, taking their opening possession, following a BEA punt, down the field on a 14-play drive. At the same time, the penalties began early. On 1st-and-10 from their own 48, Clearfield seemed to have a great pass down the field from Isaac Rumery to Micah Heichel. But, a costly offensive pass interference call pushed them back 15 yards. But, two plays later, Rumery connected with Spencer Graham for a 42-yard gain to put the Bison in the red zone.
The Eagle defense began to lock down, including sacking Rumery on third down to force Janocko to decide if three points was the option, or going for it.
Janocko opted for the latter, and it paid off when Rumery soared a pass to the end zone. Jacob Lezzer found his way behind the secondary, and somehow was able to both haul in the pass, and drag one foot in the black to put the first points on the board.
Jake Sorbera, kicking in his final home game, added the point after to give the Bison the early 7-0 lead.
That score remained until the second quarter, when Clearfield made one of its biggest mistakes of the quarter, and the season.
The drive prior, Ty Bender saw the Eagle defense strip him of the ball inside the five-yard line following a long run. This time, it was Rumery who made the mistake. After being flushed from the pocket, the junior quarterback looked to throw the ball away but seemed to find Taye Lynch down the right sideline. He lobbed the pass high, but Gage McClenahan reached high and snagged the pass from the skies.
He then saw daylight, and quickly turned the interception into a Pick-Six, heading to the end zone for Bald Eagle’s first points of the night.
Charlotte Harris came out for the extra point, but the ensuing kick was blocked by Eli Glass, leaving the score 7-6 with just over eight minutes remaining till halftime.
That interception was just one of the problems Rumery had with the Eagle defense on the night. The visiting squad pressured the junior all night long, forcing seven sacks by game’s end.
“We didn’t handle the blitz real well. It wasn’t so much the defensive line, but we just didn’t do a good job picking up blitzes,” Janocko said.
Clearfield managed to make up for it on the final drive of the half, showcasing their two-minute offense was difficult to contain.
Rumery took over at his own 46, and completed to Heichel for a gain of 10 yards. Just two plays later, Rumery flushed to the right, and went long. Lynch found himself in double coverage when he looked up for the ball. Yet somehow, with a pair of white jerseys surrounding him, he hauled in the 44-yard heave for his first score of the night. Sorbera added another kick, and at halftime the Bison held the 14-6 advantage, knowing full well they were receiving the kickoff to start the second half.
Rumery ended his night with his best outing of the season, completing 26 of 31 passes, and a career-high 372 yards through the air.
But even that kickoff wasn’t a guarantee, because the Bald Eagle coaching staff took out a page from Super Bowl XLIV.
Kael Gardner lined his kickoff team up, and suddenly when approaching the ball decided to surprise the receiving Biosn with an onside kick. The ball danced into Bison territory, but Clearfield freshman Nick Domico fell on the ball to ensure it was they who were starting the second half with possession.
Sadly for Clearfield, it was a near case of deja vu. Bender was the workhorse for the drive, carrying the ball eight of the nine plays. But, on 3rd and Goal from the 4, he once again saw the ball stripped from his grasp, and the Bald Eagle defense falling on it.
The team’s second fumble, and third turnover, meant no points on the board once again.
Five plays later, quarterback Derek Henry made Clearfield pay for it as he completed a 44-yard bomb to McClenahan to pull his team within two points. McClenahan tried to stretch for the two-point conversion, but wound up just short, leaving Bald Eagle down by just two points with half a quarter remaining.
Bald Eagle was gaining points, but doing so quickly. The Bald Eagles held the ball for under 20 minutes total in the game, and were out-gained in total yardage, 481-271, but still found themselves within striking distance.
It wasn’t until their final possession of the quarter when Bald Eagle took control.
Sorbera botched a punt, netting only 14 total yards on the boot, setting up Bald Eagle with a short field with just under four minutes remaining. The team needed just a minute and 47 seconds to add another score, this time when Henry dove in for a 1-yard plunge. Henry tried to score the two-point conversion, but was halted short, leaving the score 18-14 heading into the final frame.
Clearfield once again drove into the red zone following the touchdown, but then found itself in another instance of failing to convert.
This time, Rumery suffered his seventh sack of the night, and saw his hand stripped of the ball. Bald Eagle had a big return following the recovery, and soon took over at their own 39 yard line with just 5:25 left in the game.
The ensuing drive saw Clearfield begin making its second category of mistakes on this night, those being penalties.
On the first play of the drive, Blake Roberts ripped off a 21-yard gain, but at the end of the play the Bison committed a personal foul on a late hit. Then in the same instance, right near the Bald Eagle sidelines, got mouthy with players, and the officials tossed another flag. Because one flag was during the play, and the second happening on a dead ball, both penalties were enforced. The 30-yard walk off put Bald Eagle just outside the red zone for a 1st and 10.
It took three plays before McClenahan found the end zone again, this time on a four-yard run to put the visiting squad up by nearly two scores. Harris finally achieved the point after, and meaning Clearfield needed two touchdowns at least to get the lead and just 3:55 to do it.
Rumery took the game in his hands, starting at his own 14 after a muffed kick return. But after two plays, Clearfield suffered a holding penalty to put them back. Two plays later, along with the help of a Bald Eagle roughing the passer call, Clearfield found itself with 1st and 10 from its own 42. What seemed to be a good gain for a first down, got called back a second time because of Clearfield committing a personal foul.
The Bison tallied an uncharacteristic 100 yards in penalties by night’s end, something Janocko mentioned after the game was going to be a key focus to clean up during next week’s preparation.
Following the penalty, Rumery focused on moving the ball quickly, and getting his team to the line. With only one time out to use, the junior focused on lining up with quick snaps.
It worked as he got four plays off in a matter of a minute to line up his team on a 2nd and 3 from the Bald Eagle 28.
Rumery then decided to launch the ball deep down the left side of the field, because he saw Lezzer once again had found room. Despite the defense coming in, Lezzer brought in the pass and held on to get the touchdown. Then the Bison knew the time had come to go for the two-point conversion, hoping to pull within a field goal. Rumery took the quick snap, finding Spencer Graham on a quick slant inside for the added points.
With the 25-22 score, Clearfield lined up for the onside kick, and Bald Eagle was ready. Although Sorbera managed to hit a near-perfect kick that got the ball into BEA territory, the Bald Eagle hands team fell on the ball to set up for the final drive.
All Bald Eagle needed was a chance to run the clock down a bit, and force Clearfield to use a time out. Henry called his own number when he cut to the right of the defense, then found open field, rumbling 38 yards before being forced out of bounds in the red zone.
With him going out of bounds, Clearfield saved its time out. That was something they were happy about, especially knowing one key moment could give them an opportunity for a miracle.
Henry again called his own number, but when he broke through the line the ball bounced out of his hands, and the big boys up front pounced. The fight was on for the ball, and when the men in striped tees cleared the pile, for the fifth time on the night, BEA recovered its own fumble.
Janocko called a timeout when the clock didn’t stop, but when he saw BEA had the ball still, he knew the game was over. Henry then took a pair of knees and handed the Bison its second home loss on the season.
It was clear that Janocko was frustrated once the game was over, but maybe he was just focused on what the new week of practice was to focus on. That was his his biggest thought once the game concluded, as he was already looking ahead to next week
“Go to work on Monday, that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve been here before, and we just have to go back to work on Monday,” he said. “They are good kids, they keep working hard.We just have to come back and try to win the next two.
“Credit BEA, but we didn’t handle the ball well. You can’t turn the ball over, especially inside the five-yard line. It’s hard to overcome that, especially when you do it two times. That’s the bottom line.”
Clearfield (4-4) has a pair of road trips to conclude the regular season. The first comes next Friday night for a 7 p.m. kickoff against rival Philipsburg-Osceola.
Currently, according to sources and the P-O website, the game between the Bison and the Mounties is tabbed to be the first night game to be played at the new multipurpose field behind the Philipsburg-Osceola Senior High School. However, that could change based on construction and could be moved back to Memorial Field, located across from the YMCA.
This story will be updated once the official game location is announced.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Bald Eagle 0 6 12 7 – 25
Clearfield 7 14 0 8 – 22
BISON: 19-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Sorbera kick), 3:41
BALD EAGLES: 19-yard interception return by McClenahan (Harris kick blocked), 8:14
BISON: 44-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Sorbera kick), 0:18
BALD EAGLES: 44-yard pass from Henry to McClenahan (McClenahan run failed), 5:46
BALD EAGLES: 1-yard run by Henry (Henry run failed), 2:08
BALD EAGLES: 4-yard run by McClenahan (Harris kick), 3:55
BISON: 28-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Rumery pass to Graham), 1:41
Bald Eagle Area/Clearfield
First Downs: 10/22
Rush Yards: 172/109
Pass Yards: 99/372
Total Yards: 271/481
Time of Possession: 19:04/28:56
Bald Eagle Area: Henry-15 carries, 82 yards, TD; Roberts-11 carries, 87 yards; McClenahan-3 carries, 5 yards, TD; Reese-1 carry, 2 yards, Team-2 carries, (-4) yards.
Clearfield: Bender-17 carries, 114 yards; Rumery-9 carries, (-5) yards.
Bald Eagle Area: Henry-7 for 10, 99 yards, TD.
Clearfield: Rumery-26 for 31, 372 yards, 3 TD, INT.
Bald Eagle Area: McClenahan-3 catches, 66 yards, TD; Reese-1 catch, 15 yards; Turner-1 catch, 15 yards; Roberts-1 catch, 4 yards; Snyder-1 catch, (-1) yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-6 catches, 97 yards, 2 TD; Lynch-5 catches, 73 yards, TD; Heichel-4 catches, 26 yards; McGonigal-3 catches, 50 yards; Graham-3 catches, 45 yards Glass-2 catches, 38 yards; Freeland-2 catches, 18 yards; Bender-1 catch, 4 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|
|09/29||@ Bellefonte||28 – 55||3 – 3|
|10/06||TYRONE||35 – 7||4 – 3|
|10/13||BALD EAGLE AREA||22 – 25||4 – 4|
|10/27||@ Karns City|