KARNS CITY — The month of October, at least when it gets closer to the end of the month, is one where so much changes. Daylight seems to dwindle every day, the temperature goes down, the fall foliage colors are seen across the forest, and the spookiest of holidays gets celebrated.
For high school football, it has its own change as the end of the month is also the end of the season for some, while others see only the regular season come to an end.
The Clearfield Bison know their season will continue beyond their 10-game schedule, but head coach Tim Janocko is not looking ahead to the post season without working through the end of the regular season.
The final game for the 2017 regular season meant the longest road trip of all. A drive up Interstate 80, and a few twists off the beaten path, led to Diehl Stadium in Karns City, as the Bison took to the field to face off with the Gremlins, a team that is also playoff bound next week.
Neither team wanted to finish the year with a loss, but the Bison came out hungry, willing, and were quickly able to establish themselves as a tough competitor.
A 48-minute contest ended with the Bison ensuring they will finish the year with a winning campaign, defeating the Gremlins for the second straight year, this time by a 45-20 final score.
The offense had their moments, but this game was about being strong on defense, and Janocko acknowledged that right away.
“Offensively we were extremely balanced, but our defense was excellent tonight,” he said. “That’s a good football team, and they like to run the ball. But our kids made good decisions and got off their blocks well.”
The ground-and-pound offense, similar to that of Curwensville, allowed Karns City to average over 300 yards per game when rushing the ball. Clearfield knew in order to compete, they had to shut down the rushing attack. The Gremlins had seven different players with one rushing attempt, but only mustered 193 yards on the ground.
The rushing game for Karns City was working on the opening drive, a 10-play drive that began at their own 14, but then stalled out just past midfield, as the Clearfield defense forced the punt.
It didn’t take long for Clearfield to strike. Ty Bender got things rolling with a short run, but following an incomplete pass, Isaac Rumery let things roar with his right arm, as he ripped a deep ball down the left side of the field towards Micah Heichel, who made an adjustment to haul in the target. A couple of moves inside, then back to the outside, allowed him to elude tacklers and the first score of the game. Jake Sorbera was true with his extra point, and despite only holding the ball for 48 seconds, the Bison were up by a touchdown.
However, Karns City knew the way to get back on track is to stick with what they know to do, and that is run. They found themselves stalled again at their own 37, but faced with a 3rd and 18, the Gremlins relied on the right arm of Anthony Kamenski to get extra yardage, and his pass to Clay Garing gave his team a fresh set of downs.
Two plays later, Josh Wimer roared to life with a 30-yard run to put Karns City right outside the red zone. Five plays later, Dalton Beham concluded the 11-play drive with a 10-yard touchdown run. Garing added on the extra point, and after one quarter, the Bison and Gremlins were all tied up at seven apiece.
But, the second quarter hardly got started before the Bison decided to get back out front.
Already having the ball deep into Gremlin territory, Rumery called his own number when he was flushed from the pocket, diving to the pylon on the right corner for a rushing touchdown to put Clearfield back out front.
“”I really think being able to run the ball set some things up for us so we were able to throw the ball. One thing we stayed away from tonight was turnovers. That was the difference,” Janocko said.
Despite the 14-7 gap, the Gremlins were not yielding, and the ensuing drive proved that.
In what possibly was the best drive by either team, Karns City began at their own 27 and methodically, slowly, and intelligently began wearing out the Bison defense. The drive began with 11:52 left in the first half, and took off over seven and a half minutes in possession. Only three of the 17 plays were passes, with just one being completed. But, the key play came on a 1st and 10 at the Bison 15. An incomplete pass by Kamenski was nullified by a pass interference call on Eli Glass. It took two more plays before Garing plunged into the end zone.
The extra point was a different story as Garing failed to get the ball over the upright, leaving the score 14-13 with just over four minutes remaining.
Janocko felt that despite not having the ball in his offense’s hands as much, the key was to make something with the time his team did have possession, saying, “The key is putting up points when you have the opportunity. We were able to do that.”
The failed extra point was as close to the lead as the Gremlins would get, as Clearfield took the next drive right down the field, finishing it off with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Spencer Graham. Sorbera’s kick would make it 21-13, but the senior kicker was just getting started with how good he could be.
On the kickoff, Sorbera found a soft spot in the receiving team, and when Karns City went to field the ball, the hands team could not get their hands around it. The muffed return was recovered by the Bison, and with a minute and a half remaining in the half, plus two timeouts, Clearfield was feeling the momentum.
The drive after the turnover stalled at the 20-yard line, but Janocko decided to trust his kicker, and sent him out for the field goal attempt, something he didn’t do much of this season.
But, Sorbera not only felt good about the attempt, he got all the leg he needed to split the uprights, making the score 24-13 heading into halftime. With Clearfield riding a 10-0 run, and receiving the kickoff in the third quarter, it looked as though the team in white had all the momentum.
“He’s been doing a great job all night. The field goal was big at the end of the first half. That was huge; to tack on three points at the end of the first half, that was a big momentum swing for us.”
That second half got started with a bang when Bender ripped off a 20-yard run, then saw a 15-yard face mask penalty get added on, to put Clearfield in Karns City territory. The next play saw the handoff go this time to Brett Zattoni, who found another gap in the Gremlin defense and rumbled 29 yards to the end zone for his lone rushing touchdown on the night. Another point after put the score at 31-13 not even one minute into the second half.
Defensively, the Bison were ready to make another stand, and did so on the first possession from the Gremlins in the second half. On 2nd and 10 at their own 41, Kamenski’s handoff was mishandled and the ball hit the turf. The defensive line for Clearfield was alert, and fell on the loose ball, gaining back possession on what was the lone turnover of the game.
Clearfield wouldn’t score on the drive, but ran off three minutes on the clock. The next Bison score came with 2:42 remaining in the third quarter when Bender added his lone touchdown run, this one from four yards out. The 38-13 gap remained entering the final quarter, and by this time Janocko decided to take his foot off the gas, and ride the cruise control to the end.
That didn’t stop him from taking a gamble when the opportunity came knocking, as he called for a pass play back to Heichel eerily similar to the opening drive, as Rumery tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to the senior wide out, capping off a 176-yard game with his third touchdown pass of the night. Heichel only caught two passes, but both were for scores.
The 45-13 lead, thanks to a 31-0 run, allowed the first-team offense to take a well-earned rest of the night off, and the underclassmen took to the field.
Karns City, though, kept its starters in for one last drive that went for just two plays after Sebastian Troutman broke loose for a 74-yard run down the left sideline for the third rushing touchdown of the night for the host squad. But, at that point, the game was in hand, and Clearfield ran out the last 2:22 of the game to close out their sixth win of the season.
“This is a high note for us. We’re going into the playoffs, and we’ve solidified a winning season. There’s a lot of good things that happened tonight,” Janocko said. “We’re really coming together. We’re going to try and make a playoff run now.”
Janocko and his Bison now await the seeding for the District 5-6-9 Playoffs, but according to Janocko, it doesn’t matter who they play.
Clearfield, tentatively, is the No. 4 seed in the bracket, and looks to be ready for a rematch against the Bellefonte Red Raiders. It was on September 29 when these two teams originally faced one another on a cold, rainy, night when Bellefonte stunned the Bison, 55-28. The first round of the playoffs will take place at the home field of the higher seed, meaning Clearfield will travel to Bellefonte once again.
The official seeds and bracket will be announced at the beginning of the week.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 7 17 14 7 – 45
Karns City 7 6 0 7 – 20
BISON: 80-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick), 6:21
GREMLINS: 10-yard run by Beham (Garing kick), 2:04
BISON: 5-yard run by Rumery (Sorbera kick), 11:52
GREMLINS: 1-yard run by Garing (Garing kick missed), 4:11
BISON: 12-yard pass from Rumery to Graham (Sorbera kick), 1:29
BISON: 37-yard field goal by Sorbera (0:16)
BISON: 29-yard run by Zattoni (Sorbera kick), 11:36
BISON: 4-yard run by Bender (Sorbera kick), 2:42
BISON: 36-yard pass from Rumery to Heichel (Sorbera kick), 7:23
GREMLINS: 74-yard run by Troutman (Garing kick), 2:22
First Downs: 10/12
Rush Yards: 167/193
Pass Yards: 176/37
Total Yards: 343/230
Time of Possession: 21:46/26:14
Clearfield: Bender-13 carries, 84 yards, TD; Zattoni-12 carries, 72 yards, TD; Rummery-7 carries, 11 yards, TD; McGonigal-4 carries, 5 yards; Johnson-3 carries, (-5) yards.
Karns City: Beham-15 carries, 62 yards, TD; Kamenski-9 carries, 11 yards; Troutman-8 carries, 77 yards, TD; Garing-5 carries, 19 yards, TD; Ryan-2 carries, 8 yards; Wimer-1 carry, 30 yards; Kelsea-1 carry, (-1) yards.
Clearfield: Rumery-5 for 11, 176 yards, 3 TD.
Karns City: Kamenski-2 for 9, 37 yards.
Clearfield: Heichel-2 catches, 116 yards, 2 TD; Lezzer-1 catch, 44 yards; Graham-1 catch, 12 yards, TD; McGonigal-1 catch, 6 yards.
Karns City: Garing-1 catch, 31 yards; Hesidence-1 catch, 6 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|
|10/20||@ Philipsburg-Osceola||49 – 7||5 – 4|
|10/27||@ Karns City||45 – 20||6 – 4|
|TBD||District 5-6-9 Playoffs|