LEWISTOWN — When the end of the season nears, a lot of teams begin to show signs of wear, and becoming tired. But, the good teams that are worn down suit up and still go out on the field and give everything they can for a victory.
Friday night in Lewistown, the Clearfield Bisons went into Mitchell Field for the second time this year. This time, however, their opposition was the Lewistown Panthers. On paper, this seemed like a lopsided game between a powerhouse and a one-win team.
But in reality, this game came down to who wanted the victory more.
In a game marred with tough hits, ground and pound football, the Bisons and the Panthers went at it as if a state title was on the line. When the clock read all zeroes at the end of 48 exhausting minutes, Clearfield managed to pull out a 13-7 road victory to keep their undefeated record intact.
Head coach Tim Janocko was proud of his team, but at the same time knew that Lewistown would be tough opposition, despite their low statistics.
“I saw film of how they played Bellefonte, and how they played Tyrone. They [Lewistown] have a tough defense, and are capable of beating anyone,” Janocko said on the field.
The Panthers certainly made it tough on the Bison offense as they managed to keep Clearfield off the scoreboard until the second quarter. Part of that had to do with how tough the Lewistown defense was, but Janocko also said the weather had some effect. With gusting winds coming from one end of the field, the great passing attack of Clearfield was grounded.
“The wind effected both teams to be honest, but it basically made both teams have to rely on the run game,” Janocko said.
For Clearfield, that run game proved to be the big difference maker as Derek Morgan, Beau Swales, and Curtis Frye all saw good amounts of time carrying the ball. Clearfield would out-gain Lewistown 214-108 on the ground, with Morgan having the most carries (28) and yards (98) on the night. Frye himself had 81 yards rushing, but accounted for both Bison touchdowns.
The Panthers had little offense all game. In the first half alone, the entire Lewistown offense was held to 35 yards. It was the second half where they got a bit of momentum. Kirby Moist would end the night the leading rusher for Lewistown with 67 yards on 14 carries. But, overall the Lewistown offense was held to just 125 yards.
Coach Janocko acknowledged that he wasn’t overlooking Lewistown on the schedule.
“No, we weren’t overlooking them at all. You know, Lewistown has skilled people at key positions, and that made for a tough game.” Janocko said.
Neither team found the end zone in the first quarter, but Clearfield began their first scoring drive with just over two minutes left in the first frame. They were able to march down the field to the Panther 35, but found themselves with a 3rd and long situation. That was when Frye was able to complete his first pass of the night to his favorite target, Derek Danver, for a 31 yard gain, setting up a 1st and goal. Frye would finish the drive off himself, punching the ball in from three yards out.
The extra point gave Clearfield the 7-0 lead. They had an opportunity to kick a late field goal, but Zach Fannin’s kick was wide right from 30 yards out.
It was the third quarter where things started getting interesting. Lewistown received the second half kickoff and began at their own 35. After losing yardage on first down, Moist found a gap on the right side and went 42 yards to the Clearfield 25 to set up a new set of downs. Lewistown would push to the six yard line, but found themselves having trouble getting in the end zone.
That’s when the wildcat formation came into play. Tight end Daniel Wheeler lined up in the shotgun and took the snap to the line. But rather than charge the defensive line, he pulled a move made famous by former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. Just as he approached the line, he made a jump pass right into the hands of Cole Welham.
An extra point later, the game was tied 7-7, and there was still nine minutes to play in the third quarter.
The Bisons took the next drive and would use up most of the clock with their run game. After 10 plays, they found themselves with prime position to score the go-ahead touchdown. Unfortunately two consecutive penalties pushed the ball back to the 16 yard line, and forced Frye to try and make a play with his arm.
With the wind playing havoc all night, he would miss both Morgan and Danver on his ensuing passes, turning the ball over on downs to the Panthers.
Clearfield once again had no success on their next drive, even after forcing a three-and-out and getting field position in Panther territory. For the second straight time, they were denied points in the red zone, and turned the ball over with 9:55 remaining in the game.
However, following yet another three and out, Clearfield went to work on chewing away the clock, and looking to put away the game. Starting at their own 43, Frye got a quick first down after two plays, then hit a seven yard pass to Morgan. After a long series of run plays, the clock began to go down under five minutes. Soon it was below four, then three, and then two. At that point, Clearfield found themselves first and goal from the 7-yard line.
Morgan gained three yards on first down, and again on second down before Clearfield called time out. Frye tried pushing the pile forward after calling his own number on third down, even spinning and being pushed to the end zone. But, the whistle blew before he made it in, forcing a fourth down call with just over 1:45 left in the game.
Frye then decided to go for it all, and just barely sneaked into the end zone, giving the Bisons their second touchdown. Fannin missed the extra point, leaving the score 13-7. More importantly, the Panthers still had some time on the clock, and two time outs to work with.
After a short kickoff, Lewistown started at their own 34. On first down, quarterback Nathan Martin called his own number and got a 16 yard gain. The problem was right before he went down, the ball was stripped away and it was Clearfield on the recovery. Both teams then got into a shoving match, each gaining penalties, but it was Lewistown’s first turnover of the game, and Clearfield looked to put an end to their hopes.
Unfortunately on the ensuing drive, Clearfield went three and out, forcing a punt and giving possession to the Panthers, who were hoping for a miracle.
On first down, Wheeler launched the ball down the middle of the field for Welham again, but the pass was broken up and only nine seconds remained. The Bisons went into a prevent defense and waited for the final hurl down the field. Wheeler did just that, as the pass went way over the head of any of his receivers, and was intercepted by Jack Mellgard, ending the game.
Now sitting at 7-0, the Bisons look to be on their way to a division title. But, Janocko wasn’t thinking about that tonight, as this one nearly got away from them.
“I was concerned the whole game. We made some mistakes we’re not used to making, and we were against a very tough defense,” Janocko said. “The last drive where we scored, our kids showed character and that’s what wins football games.”
Clearfield will be on the road once again next Friday night as they travel to face Juniata.
See photos of the game at: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/101510game.html
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Clearfield 0 7 0 6 13
Lewistown 0 0 7 0 7
BISONS: 3-yard run by Frye (Fannin kick), 8:47
PANTHERS: 6-yard pass from Wheeler to Welham (Leight kick), 4:17
BISONS: 1-yard run by Frye (Fannin kick FAILED), 1:38
FIRST DOWNS: CF-15 LT-4
RUSH YARDS: CF-214 LT-108
PASS YARDS: CF-72 LT-6
PENALTIES: CF-7 LT-1
PENALTY YARDS: CF-38 LT-6
TOTAL YARDS: CF-286 LT-125
TURNOVERS: CF-0 LT-2
FUMBLES: CF-1 LT-1
FUMBLES LOST: CF-0 LT-1
TIME OF POSSESSION: CF-32:35 LT-15:25
Clearfield: Morgan-28 carries, 98 yards; Frye-17 carries, 81 yards, 2 TD; Swales-7 carries, 34 yards
Lewistown: Moist-14 carries, 67 yards; Peachey-4 carries, 29 yards
Clearfield: Frye-6 completions, 14 attempts, 72 yards
Lewistown: Wheeler-1 completion, 3 attempts, 6 yards, TD, INT; Martin-0 completions, 1 attempt
Clearfield: Danver-3 receptions, 53 yards; Morgan-3 receptions, 19 yards
Lewistown: Welham-1 reception, 6 yards, TD