BELLEFONTE — It is not often at the high school level that two teams face one another twice in the same season. It’s even more rare for those teams to face each other at the same venue that the first game occurred. However, the first round of the District 5-6-9 playoffs for Class-AAAA began that way for the Clearfield Bison and the Bellefonte Red Raiders.
It was this past October when these two squads met at Rogers Stadium for the regular season meeting, one where Bellefonte handed Clearfield a 55-28 throttling.
The Bison looked to stun the opposition on their own home field in their quest for an upset.
On this night, at least for the final 24 minutes, it was clear the better team was clad in red. Bellefonte had a lot going for them in the first half, and then found itself on an even bigger, and longer, roll in the final two quarters, shutting out the opposition to end the Bison 2017 season with a 62-21 beat down.
“They have a lot of athletes. They’re a senior dominated team, not fancy. It’s their year, and they did a good job,” head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards. “We dropped some balls we really needed to catch for some first downs. Once momentum swung, they just had it in control. When you try and sell out, that’s what happens. But that’s not indicative of how the game was.”
Bellefonte had things going in their game plan from the get-go, letting Dylan Deitrich, C.J. Funk and Dexter Gallishaw run rampant on the Bison defense. In total, the Red Raiders put up nearly 400 yards of rushing by game’s end, with all but three touchdowns coming on the ground.
The first of those came just two minutes into the game when Deitrich capped off a six-play drive with a five run plunge right up the center of the offensive line. Kicker Chris Persiko pulled the extra point left, leaving the gap 6-0.
Clearfield did not want to get in a hole early, and came out firing with Isaac Rumery, who completed four of his six pass attempts on the first Bison drive of the game. He concluded the drive with a quick slant to Spencer Graham over the middle for the first Clearfield score of the night. Jake Sorbera booted the extra point, and Clearfield saw itself ahead for the first time on the night, 7-6.
It didn’t take long for Bellefonte to come back as they went 10 plays on the next drive, all but one being running plays, and finished with a 21-yard score by Funk that saw him escape tackles all the way to the end zone. Persiko again pulled the point after to the left, giving Clearfield a chance to gain back the advantage.
Unfortunately, it was three-and-out for the Bison, and Bellefonte wasted no time growing their lead entering the second quarter.
Following Deitrich’s 31-yard pass to Stephen Kutches, he would burst through the line, and go 18 yards to the house for his second score of the night. Persiko finally put the ball through the uprights, and the 19-7 gap was lingering for Clearfield.
The Bison seemed to find itself in a hole on the next drive, facing 3rd and 13 from its own 10. That is when Rumery used both his legs and his arms to put one major highlight on the night for Clearfield.
After rolling to his right, he launched the pass deep down the sidelines. What he found was Taye Lynch so wide open, there was no defender within eight yards of him. Lynch turned, and sprinted to the end zone for the 90-yard strike to pull the Bison within one score, 19-14.
But, following a couple punts by both squads, Bellefonte took just two plays to head to the end zone yet again, as Funk pulled off a 27-yard rumble down the Red Raider sideline for his second score of the half. Deitrich then added in the two-point conversion, pushing the score to 27-14 with half a quarter to go.
That is when Clearfield played keep away, deciding to run the clock with both short passes, and fast runs. The drive went right to the goal line, where Bellefonte forced 4th and Goal, but somehow Rumery found daylight on the right side and dove for the end zone. With only eight seconds left in the first half, and Sorbera’s right foot, the score was 27-21, and Clearfield was getting the second half kickoff.
Janocko had one simple statement to describe the first 24 minutes of action, saying, “It was a great first half, but things just got out of hand.”
Out of hand was right as the Red Raiders forced a punt on the opening drive, and then Deitrich decided to let his arm do the talking to cap off the next possession. A 47-yard bomb to Funk, and some escaped tackles, put another touchdown on the board for Bellefonte, making the score 34-21 with still over half the third quarter to go.
The next possession was all about running the ball, and poor tackling from Clearfield, as it was 67 yards of ground-and-pound football that ended with Gallishaw going 11 yards to the end zone for another score.
Looking at a 41-21 deficit, Clearfield had to rely on the passing game, and had a lot of success on the next possession, with Rumery completing four of his first five passes. But then, Jacob Lezzer saw one ball go right in his hands, and then hit the turf. Graham saw one ball go too high, and then Taye Lynch saw a sure touchdown go just beyond his finger tips, and handing the ball back to Bellefonte on downs.
Rumery had a strong night, finishing 15 for 31 and 201 yards passing, but he didn’t leave unscathed, as he reinjured his ankle on the drive.
“We moved the ball, but didn’t convert a third down. Then our quarterback got hurt there,” Janocko said of the struggles his offense faced in the second half.
The change of possession allowed Bellefonte to run some time off the clock, and finish with Deitrich tossing his second touchdown pass of the night, this one to Jaymz McClelland, to push the score to 48-21.
Clearfield’s woes continued on the next drive, as Rumery made his first mistake of the night, seeing a ball intended for Heichel get picked off by Nicholas Paloskey. Four plays after, with the second-team offense on the field, Colton Burd rumbled from nine yards out for what was the final rushing touchdown of the game.
But, it wasn’t the final touchdown of the night. Despite being up 55-21, the first-team defense was still on the field, and following a quick first down from a Rumery pass to Lynch, he looked to capitalize again, and went deep on the left side. The problem was, his pass was picked off by Cade Fortney, who then used his speed to rumble up the Bellefonte sideline for the pick-six. Persiko nailed an extra point, and it sealed the fate of the Bison, who saw a running clock close out the game.
Clearfield ended the season at 6-5, something that many never expected from this team entering the year. Janocko looked at the positives of what his team did, especially looking at the fact he was coaching a very young squad.
“To try to take a silver lining out of things; we’re a young team, we got in the playoffs; (it’s the) youngest team I’ve ever put on the field in my career with six seniors,” he said. “We lost to a great football team. We just got to work and come back next year.”
Among those seniors that are leaving include Heichel and Luke McGonigal, two key players on offense. But, the experience the team gained this year in his eyes is better preparing them for what 2018 could bring. The look of excitement was clear when asked if he was already looking forward to the new season.
“I am, because I know where we’re going to be. I know we’re losing some key kids, but we have a lot coming back,” he said. “There’s a great future here. To have a winning season with this young team, that’s what I’m taking away from this.”
Bellefonte now moves into the District 5-6-9 finals against Johnstown, which will take place next Friday or Saturday at a neutral site.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 7 14 0 0 – 21
Bellefonte 12 15 14 21 – 62
RED RAIDERS: 5-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick wide-left), 9:46
BISON: 7-yard pass from Rumery to Graham (Sorbera kick), 5:10
RED RAIDERS: 21-yard run by Funk (Persiko kick wide-left), 2:29
RED RAIDERS: 18-yard run by Deitrich (Persiko kick), 11:01
BISON: 90-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Sorbera kick), 9:55
RED RAIDERS: 27-yard run by Funk (Deitrich run), 6:12
BISON: 1-yard run by Rumery (Sorbera kick), 0:08
RED RAIDERS: 47-yard pass from Deitrich to Funk (Persiko kick), 9:18
RED RAIDERS: 11-yard run by Gallishaw (Persiko kick), 5:35
RED RAIDERS: 7-yard pass from Deitrich to McClelland (Persiko kick), 9:05
RED RAIDERS: 9-yard run by Burd (Persiko kick), 5:27
RED RAIDERS: 60-yard Interception return by Fortney (Persiko kick), 4:34
First Downs: 16/19
Rushing Yards: 107/389
Passing Yards: 201/120
Total Yards: 308/509
Time Of Possession: 27:44/20:16
Clearfield: Zattoni-11 carries, 50 yards; Bender-11 Carries, 17 yards; Rumery-9 carries, 32 yards, TD; McGonigal-3 carries, 8 yards.
Bellefonte: Gallishaw-15 carries, 100 yards, TD; Deitrich-14 carries, 120 yards, 2 TD; Funk-10 carries, 139 yards, 2 TD; Burd-2 carries, 19 yards, TD; Paloskey-2 carries, 6 yards; Team-1 carry, (-5) yards.
Clearfield: Rumery-15 for 31, 201 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT.
Bellefonte: Deitrich-5 for 8, 120 yards, 2 TD.
Clearfield: Lynch-8 catches, 157 yards, TD; Heichel-3 catches, 14 yards, TD; Graham-2 catches, 25 yards, TD; Bender-2 catches, 0 yards; Lezzer-1 catch, 5 yards.
Bellefonte: Funk-2 catches, 71 yards, TD; Kutches-1 catch, 31 yards; Fortney-1 catch, 11 yards; McClelland-1 catch, 7 yards, TD.
Final Bison Scoreboard:
|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|
|11/03||District 5-6-9 Playoffs|
|11/03||@ Bellefonte||21 – 62||6 – 5|