MILL HALL — Walking into the locker room at halftime, the Clearfield Bison football team was both satisfied and aggravated. Despite having the lead, the Bisons did not have a stellar performance on the field. Things were not working quite how the coaches wanted, and the players knew they needed to make adjustments.
Those adjustments made in the locker room focused mainly on re-establishing the ground game.
One player took that notion to heart – that being running back Beau Swales. After only getting the ball seven times in the first 24 minutes of play and gaining only 52 yards, the senior back dug in his cleats for a second half of football that led to the greatest single game in his career.
Swales would touch the ball 21 times in the second half, rushing for a career-high 252 yards and four touchdowns to help push the Bisons past the home-standing Central Mountain Wildcats by a final of 35-19.
“We came out firing in the second half. I’ve got to give credit to my line, they made it possible,” Swales said after the game. “We made a lot of mistakes in the first half, and we just wanted to come out and pound the ball down their throat.”
It was a game of two completely different halves of football for the Bisons. The first half saw them only gain a total of 103 yards of offense against an extremely tall and quick Wildcat defense. At the same time, Clearfield had to deal with the dual-threat player in Von Walker, who has been the main offense for Central Mountain all season.
Walker had a strong night, finishing with 204 rushing yards and 118 passing yards, but the Bison defense was able to keep the Wildcats’ top player from having a breakout game.
“I thought our defense played great. We had some big stops all night, especially in the red zone. That kid (Walker) is just so tough, but I’m proud of the kids,” head coach Tim Janocko said after the game.
Clearfield got the ball first to start the game, but found themselves quickly in a box as after a strong run by Frye, their offense was pushed behind the line and Frye missed his first two passes. The Bison defense held their ground on the next drive to force a punt, but could do little with their offense on the next possession.
The first score of the contest came when Central Mountain got the first long drive of the night. After starting on their own 23, the Wildcats used a heavy dose of Walker in both rushing and passing to get the team down the field into the red zone. Walker then called his own number on 1st and 10 on the 14 and scrambled into the end zone. An extra point later and it would be Central Mountain with the early lead.
Clearfield went three and out on it’s next possession, but the defense again held it’s ground forcing a punt. That was where the Bisons got their first break of the game.
Walker received the snap, however the Bison front line penetrated and got the block. The ball was recovered at the 9-yard line by Christian Lezzer, setting up Clearfield with a short field. Not wanting to waste much time, Lezzer got the ensuing hand off from Frye and he lunged into the end zone. The point after made it a tie game less than a minute into the second quarter.
“The blocked punt certainly was a game changer as it got momentum on our side,” Janocko said.
Unfortunately for Clearfield, that momentum was quickly stopped as Walker took the Wildcats down the field on quick runs to put Central Mountain on the Bison 25. On a 2nd and 2, the hand off went to Drew Alexander, and all the Bison defense could do was look at the back of his jersey as he rumbled in for the touchdown. The point after by Justin Allen went wide left, leaving the score 13-7 with just over nine minutes to go in the half.
Clearfield still couldn’t find momentum on the next drive, but found it quickly on the next possession as running back Blaze Buckwalter lost the handle on the football, and as the scramble was on the Bison defense recovered at the 14 of the Wildcats, setting up another short field.
Swales then got his first chance to shine as he would score from six yards out two plays after the turnover. The extra point was good, giving Clearfield a one-point advantage.
“The blocked punt and the fumble were definitely the two big plays of the first half. We could have been down by two scores if our defense hadn’t come up big in those cases,” Janocko said.
The Wildcats would not do much on the next drive, but the defense did when Clearfield got the ball back. With their backs to the wall and staring at a 3rd and goal from the 4, Tyler Pavalko intercepted Frye and stopped the Bisons’ chance to go up more before halftime. Then, Walker had a strong run of 37 yards and a completed a pass for 15 yards to bring Central Mountain to the Bison 28 with less than a minute to play in the half. However, Clearfield stood tall as Frye returned the favor, intercepting Walker inside the 15, ending the Wildcats’ hope to take the lead heading into the break.
When the teams emerged for the second half of play, no one knew what to expect as both teams were still evenly matched. In fact, both squads would swap fumbles on the first three possessions. However, on Clearfield’s third drive of the half, Swales would begin his career night.
The senior back would see the ball five different times on the 10-play drive, capping it off with a 5-yard dive for his second touchdown of the game. One more extra point made the score 21-13, which it remained heading into the fourth quarter.
Following another three-and-out by Central Mountain, the game plan was easy to see by the Bisons. It was time to play keep away, and run the clock.
“They (Central Mountain) played the pass well in the first half. They’re really tall and we could see it wasn’t working throwing the ball,” Janocko said.
Clearfield’s first possession of the fourth quarter saw Swales once again dominate on the ground. Beginning at the Bison 42, Swales, Frye and Lezzer each carried the ball, making it into the red zone quickly, but also wearing down the Wildcat defenders. Swales then got the call on a 4th and 1 and stayed on his feet to record his third touchdown of the night. With over eight minutes to play, the score was 28-13 in favor of the Bisons, but the players knew the opposition still had time to come back.
The Bison defense made sure that didn’t happen as after two huge runs by Walker, Trey Jordan intercepted the ball at his own 30, and after some slicing and dicing, finally was brought down for another key turnover in the game.
Clearfield could not capitalize on the opportunity, fumbling on it’s third play from scrimmage. But yet again, the defense held up it’s end of the game, forcing a turnover on downs.
The ensuing drive would be Swales’ break-out chance as following two short gains, he helped bring the Bisons to mid-field. On 1st and 10, the give went to him up the left side. Swales broke into the secondary, shed one tackle, and the foot race was on. It would be a 49-yard touchdown run by Swales that put Clearfield up by three scores with 3:20 left in the game.
Central Mountain answered back with a long drive of its own as Walker ran in from 18 yards out to get his second touchdown of the night. A missed two-point conversion left the Wildcats no choice but to go for the onside kick. Unfortunately for them, the kick went out of bounds, and Clearfield ran down the remaining clock to seal the victory.
Still with an undefeated record, Janocko was praising the victory, and the toughness of his team in this stretch of games.
“You know, this definitely gives us a leg up on our division and more power points heading to the playoffs. This stretch of games, it’s a meat grinder,” Janocko said. “To play Mifflin County last week, then tonight with Central Mountain, and then next week, it’s tough. But it shows the kind of team we are.”
The next challenge for Clearfield is their long-time rival, the Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties, who defeated Penns Valley on Friday night 46-21.
See photos of the game here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/093011game.html
Clearfield 0 14 7 14 – 35
Central Mtn. 7 6 0 6 – 19
SCORE BY QUARTER
WILDCATS: 14-yard run by Walker (Allen kick), 1:19
BISONS: 9-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 10:56
WILDCATS: 25-yard run by Alexander (Herrington kick MISSED), 9:12
BISONS: 6-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 4:59
BISONS: 5-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 1:30
BISONS: 20-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 8:03
BISONS: 49-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 3:20
WILDCATS: 18-yard run by Walker (2-point conversion failed), 2:07
First Downs: CF-15 CM-12
Rush Yards: CF-334 CM-244
Pass Yards: CF-11 CM-118
Penalties: CF-5 CM-10
Penalty Yards: CF-55 CM-52
Total Yards: CF-345 CM-362
Interceptions: CF-1 CM-2
Fumbles: CF-4 CM-2
Fumbles Lost: CF-2 CM-2
Time of Possession: CF-23:58 CM-24:02
Clearfield: Swales-28 carries, 252 yards, 4 TD; Frye-11 carries, 53 yards; Lezzer-3 carries, 33 yards, TD; Hertlein: 2 carries, 3 yards; TEAM-2 carries, (-10) yards.
Central Mountain: Walker-21 carries, 204 yards, 2 TD; Alexander-6 carries, 46 yards, TD; Buckwalter-7 carries, 21 yards; TEAM-2 carries, (-17) yards.
Clearfield: Frye-3 completions, 8 attempts, 11 yards, INT.
Central Mountain: Walker-8 completions, 21 attempts, 118 yards, 2 INT.
Clearfield: Swales-3 receptions, 11 yards.
Central Mountain: Renninger-3 receptions, 63 yards; Pavalko-3 receptions, 30 yards; Allen-2 receptions, 25 yards.