CLARION — This one was, quite simply, one for the ages.
The Clearfield Bisons and Bradford Owls squared off in the District 9
Class AAA title game at Clarion University\’s Memorial Stadium on
Friday night in game that ESPN would have dubbed an \”instant classic.\”
Back-and-forth the game went, the two teams slugging it out like a
pair of prizefighters. When it was all said and done, after a pair of
overtimes, it was the Owls who claimed a 37-30 victory.
Andrew Janocko\’s desperation fourth down pass from 15 yards out went
off the fingertips of Adam Jury in the back of the end zone setting
off a celebration along the Owls\’ sideline. Janocko and Jury,
meanwhile, lay on the turf in shock over what had transpired on this
cold November evening.
The Bisons — who ended their season at 7-4 — had plenty of chances to
win this one. They led 20-6 at one point and 27-20 with less than
three minutes to play in the game.
Yes, this one will be remembered as the one that got away.
For most of the game, the Bisons outplayed, out coached and outsmarted
the Owls. And make no mistake about it, the Bisons were the better
team on this night — the numbers say so.
But Bradford (8-2 overall) made the big plays when it had to. As a
result, the Owls are moving on.
Let\’s start at the beginning.
Things didn\’t begin so well for the Bisons. On what can only be
described as a poorly-executed option play late in the first quarter,
Janocko rolled to his left and tried to pitch the ball. But there
wasn\’t a Bison near the football, and Bradford\’s Nick Johnson picked
it up and scampered 59 yards with it for the score.
The Owls missed the extra point and held a 6-0 lead.
The next three touchdowns came from Clearfield. In the second quarter,
Janocko hooked up with Jury for a 5-yard TD pass. Kicker Kyle Kline
missed the PAT and the game was tied, 6-6. Then, late in the first
half, Janocko punched one in himself from three yards out to make it
13-6 at the intermission.
In the third quarter, Janocko found Jury again, this time from seven
yards out to push the Bison lead to 20-6.
The Bisons looked poised to add another D-9 championship trophy to the
case at CHS. But the Owls tied the game on a 10-yard TD run by Taylor
O\’Brien and a 61-yard scamper by E.J. Moore.
In the fourth quarter, Janocko hooked up with Jury again, this time
from four yards out to give the Bisons a 27-20 lead with 7:53 to play
in the game. To their credit, the Owls didn\’t quit. With their backs
to the wall, the Owls delivered.
On a fourth-and-4 from the Bison 23-yard line, the Owls went for it —
and hit paydirt. Johnson, who scored the first TD of the game, scored
the last one in regulation, running one in from 23 yards out.
Clearfield had a chance to win it in regulation, but Kline\’s 36-yard
field goal with five seconds left was partially blocked.
So into overtime it went.
In the first OT, the Bisons were unable to find the end zone. But
Kline connected on a 34-yard field goal. Bradford answered, though,
when kicker Steve Butler split the uprights on a 24-yard field goal.
In the second overtime, Owls\’ quarterback Ben Walter found Moore in
the corner of the end zone for a 23-yard TD pass to make it 37-30.
Clearfield had four plays to score, but couldn\’t do it. A running play
to Isiah Morgan gained nothing and Janocko threw three incomplete
passes to end the game.
The loss ended Clearfield\’s season and its bid for a third consecutive
D-9 AAA championship. The Bisons wasted several big performances.
Morgan was a workhorse for the Bisons, carrying the ball an amazing 35
times for 151 yards.
Janocko had a solid night, completing 9-of-19 for 108 yards and three
touchdowns. His offensive line didn\’t help his cause much, as he was
under the gun nearly every time he dropped back to pass.
While the Clearfield defense improved greatly since the first time the
teams met (a 56-35 Bradford victory), it still could not get a key
stop when it needed to, especially in the third and fourth quarters.
Bradford will move on to compete next week against District 4 champion
Selinsgrove in the PIAA playoffs. The site and time of that game has
yet to be determined.
EXTRA POINTS: It was the last game for the father-son combination of
Clearfield coach Tim Janocko and son Andrew. … Moore led the Owls on
the ground, carrying the ball 13 times for 138 yards. He scored two
touchdowns, one on the ground and one through the air. … Bradford
was flagged three times for unsportsmanlike conduct penalties,
including one for a blow to the head on Janocko. … There was just
one turnover in the game, the Bison fumble in the first quarter.
Bradford 6 0 14 7 3 7 — 37
Clearfield 0 13 7 7 3 0 — 30
B—Nick Johnson 59 fumble return (kick failed), 0:54.
C—Adam Jury 5 pass from Andrew Janocko (kick failed), 7:59.
C—Janocko 3 run (Kyle Kline kick), 2:54.
C—Jury 7 pass from Janocko (Kline kick), 7:30.
B—Taylor O\’Brien 10 run (Butler kick), 4:59.
B—E.J. Moore 61 run (Butler kick), 1:26.
C—Jury 4 pass from Janocko (Kline kick), 7:53.
B—Johnson 23 run (Butler kick), 2:53.
C—Kline 34 field goal.
B—Butler 24 field goal.
B—Moore 23 pass from Ben Walter (Butler kick).