SHAMOKIN — For most people, the number 13 could be associated with both good luck and bad luck. If a building is more than 12 stories tall, there is no listing for a 13th floor. For some motorsports teams, there’s no 13th vehicle in their fleet.
When it comes to football, the one man that made the number 13 famous was Dan Marino. Despite not having a Super Bowl to his credit, he wore what some consider an unlucky number and set NFL records.
For this year’s Clearfield Bison football squad, they had an opportunity Friday night to do something no team before them had ever accomplished. After last week’s victory over Johnstown, the Bisons were 12-0, and had the opportunity to give the school and the town it’s first undefeated, 13-win season.
Their opposition in the first round of the PIAA Class AAA state playoffs were the Shikellamy Braves, who entered Friday night’s action at 9-3.
With a very rowdy, cold, and near capacity crowd at the Shamokin High School, the Bisons gave their hometown fans every reason to cheer and be joyous. With the holiday season officially under way, Clearfield used their strong pass attack, a powerful ground game, and some strong plays on special teams to defeat Shikellamy by a final score of 42-26.
The victory gave the 2010 team the distinction of being the first team to give Clearfield 13 wins in one season with zero losses, and did so thanks to the strong leadership and play of it’s seniors.
Running back Derek Morgan continued to show why he is one of the most elusive and quickest backs in the state as he would rack up 136 yards on 25 carries including one touchdown. But, he also provided one of the key sparks for the Bison offense as he also threw for a touchdown to fellow teammate, and senior, Brandon Hogue.
At the same time, Bison quarterback Curtis Frye had another big night, going 9 for 18 passing for 121 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Shikellamy wasn’t shut down by Clearfield all night, especially when it came to rushing the football. Star running back Dominick Wolfe ran the ball 21 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns. Wolfe also returned a fumble for a touchdown, which would be the only turnover for Clearfield on the night.
Braves’ quarterback Garrett Pope also had some success on the ground as he ran for 59 yards and one touchdown, but any attempt to get a passing game for Shikellamy was abruptly stopped as Pope only completed four passes.
Shikellamy elected to receive the opening kickoff, but the Bison defense held strong and forced a three-and-out. When Clearfield took over, they had good field position as they started just past mid-field. On first down, Frye completed a pass to Jack Mellgard, and then followed up with another deep ball to Derek Danver, setting them up in the red zone after just two plays.
Clearfield then went ground and pound with Morgan who pushed the ball just inside the one-yard line, giving Clearfield a 1st and goal. Not wanting to risk anything, Frye took the snap from under center and sneaked into the end zone for the first score of the night. Zach Fannin’s extra point gave Clearfield an early 7-0 lead, and had the crowd that made the two-hour drive to Shamokin High School something to cheer for.
Unfortunately, those cheers abruptly stopped as on the Braves’ next drive, Wolfe would be the key player as after just two plays, he broke into the Bison secondary and never looked back, scoring on a 59-yard run down the sideline. Mike Yoder’s extra point tied the game after nearly four minutes of play.
Neither team saw much luck on the next two drives, but Clearfield found itself in a tight spot on their third series following a fumble and two penalties that put them deep in their own territory. The ensuing punt gave Shikellamy a first down near mid-field.
Almost as if it was deja vu for the fans in attendance, after just two plays, the Braves were in the end zone. This time, it was Pope breaking free for a 48-yard rushing touchdown after a scramble. Another extra point and it was 14-7, which it remained heading into the second quarter.
But, Clearfield soon got the big spark they were looking for.
After forcing yet another three-and-out, Shikellamy was in punt formation on 4th and 20. On the snap, the Bisons broke through the line and were able to block the punt. Andrew Redden scooped up the loose ball and ran 15 yards into the end zone. The players and the fans suddenly had new life and were going nuts. Fannin’s extra point tied the game at 14, but the Bisons were far from done.
With the momentum on their side, Clearfield forced the Braves into another 3rd and long situation. Wolfe got the carry, but had the ball come loose after five yards. The scramble that followed saw Beau Swales emerge with the football, forcing a huge turnover and a short field for Clearfield.
Not wanting to waste time, Clearfield tried the pass game and only got four yards on a completion to Redden. But, on second down, things changed. Frye handed the ball to Morgan, who ran left. Suddenly he adjusted the ball in hand and made a pass attempt. The halfback pass would go to a wide-open Brandon Hogue in the end zone for Clearfield’s second touchdown in just under two minutes. Fannin’s extra point gave Clearfield the lead back, one they would not give up.
Neither team saw much success on their ensuing possessions until Clearfield got the ball with 3:31 remaining in the half. After four straight runs, Frye used play action and found senior Derek Danver for a 23-yard touchdown strike. One more extra point and it was 28-14 Clearfield, which it remained at the break.
At the beginning of the second half, Clearfield would be the receiver of the kickoff, and the star players on the ensuing drive were Frye and Morgan. Frye would complete three of his four pases, while Morgan ran the ball three times for positive yardage. On 2nd and 5 from the Shikellamy 24, Frye decided to gamble and threw a quick spiral down the field towards his target, Redden. Almost as if he was channeling Randy Moss or Chad Ochocinco, Redden reached with just one hand and pulled the ball in for the touchdown. Quite possibly one of the best receiving touchdowns on the season by any Clearfield player was enough to extend the lead to three possessions with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter.
At that point, Clearfield decided it was time to simply run the clock out. After another three and out by the Braves, Clearfield decided to focus on running the football. On their next two possessions, the Bisons only threw two passes, but racked up the rushing yards.
With less than a minute left in the third quarter, Morgan capped off the run attack with a two-yard rush into the end zone, his only rushing score of the game. Another Fannin extra point made the score 42-14, and put the game well in the hands of Clearfield.
Despite the big deficit, Shikellamy was not going down without a fight. On Clearfield’s first possession after the touchdown, Christian Lezzer was the featured back on the drive, but on his second carry had the ball stripped from him by Wolfe, who took the ball 41 yards to the end zone.
The extra point was botched, leaving the score 42-20.
Surprisingly, the Braves decided to kick the ball deep, and hoped to get another chance at cutting the lead down. Once again, it was backup running back Lezzer along with Mellgard getting the carries on the drive, but for the second time, the attempt to run down the clock was stopped and Clearfield was forced to punt.
Wolfe took full advantage on the ensuing drive and would score from 20 yards out. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 42-26.
Clearfield decided to put Morgan back in, and from that point on it was simply his job to run down the clock. In fact, he ran the ball the entire way to the two-yard line. Then, Swales plunged for the end zone but was stopped short, leaving Clearfield with a 4th and Goal. But rather than run up the score one more time, the game was well in hand and the Bisons let the clock run to zero.
Now sitting on 13-0, Clearfield will look to continue this magical season next Friday night. Their opposition is by far the toughest they have, and will, face all year. Clearfield now takes on the top-ranked team in the entire state, the Allentown Central Catholic Vikings.
The Vikings overpowered Abington Heights, 54-14, to move onto the quarterfinals, and are also sitting at 13-0.
Tentatively, the game is set for next Friday night at 7 p.m. Location has yet to be determined, but will be announced early in the week.
See photos courtesy clearfieldfootball.org: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/112610game.html
CLEARFIELD 7 21 14 0 42
SHIKELLAMY 14 0 0 12 26
SCORE BY QUARTERS
BISONS: 1-yard run by Frye (Fannin Kick), 9:05
BRAVES: 59-yard run by Wolfe (Yoder Kick), 8:13
BRAVES: 48-yard run by Pope (Yoder Kick), 1:15
BISONS: 15-yard punt block return by Redden (Fannin Kick), 10:33
BISONS: 11-yard pass from Morgan to Hogue (Fannin Kick), 8:47
BISONS: 23-yard pass from Frye to Danver (Fannin Kick), 1:33
BISONS: 24-yard pass from Frye to Redden (Fannin Kick), 9:17
BISONS: 2-yard run by Morgan (Fannin Kick), 0:45
BRAVES: 41-yard fumble return by Wolfe (2-point conversion FAILED), 10:02
BRAVES: 20-yard run by Wolfe (2-point conversion FAILED), 5:10
First Downs: CF-16 SY-4
Rush Yards: CF-186 SY-222
Pass Yards: CF-131 SY-46
Penalties: CF-5 SY-8
Penalty Yards: CF-15 SY-60
Total Offense: CF-317 SY-268
Turnovers: CF-1 SY-1
Fumbles: CF-2 SY-1
Fumbles Lost: CF-1 SY-1
Clearfield: Morgan-25 carries, 136 yards, TD; Frye-5 carries, 18 yards, TD; Swales-4 carries, 30 yards; Lezzer-4 carries, 21 yards; Mellgard-2 carries, 1 yard.
Shikellamy: Wolfe-21 carries, 150 yards, 2 TD, 41-Fumble Return TD; Pope-3 carries, 59 yards, TD; Thomas-1 carry, 13 yards.
Clearfield: Frye-9 completions, 18 attempts, 121 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT; Morgan-1 completion, 1 attempt, 11 yards, TD.
Shikellamy: Pope-4 completions, 18 attempts, 46 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT.
Clearfield: Danver-2 catches, 45 yards, TD; Redden-3 catches, 38 yards, TD; Mellgard-2 catches, 32 yards; Hogue-1 catch, 11 yards, TD; Swales-2 catches, 6 yards.
Shikellamy: Pratt-3 catches, 37 yards; Wagner-1 catch, 9 yards.