PHILIPSBURG — Homecoming games bring out the best in the home team as they want to win for their school, and especially for the larger crowd that comes with a big game.
The Philipsburg-Osceola Mounties were hosting their Homecoming on Friday Night at Memorial Field. Across the field were the undefeated Clearfield Bisons, a team that for the last 12 meetings has defeated the Mounties. They were a team that was looking to continue it’s winning ways, and hoped to spoil the festivities for the home-standing Mounties.
Two packed grandstands plus the standing-room only crowd that filed in got more than just a high school football game. They got to see a back-and-forth contest between two rival teams that was high scoring, pulse-pounding, and would come down to the last second of the game.
When the clock read 0:00, it was the Mounties jumping on the field and spreading high-fives as they held back a late Bison drive to earn a 40-33 victory.
“We fought through a lot of adversity tonight. This was a quality win,” P-O head coach Jeff Vroman said afterward. “This is why you coach. It was a respect game for us. That’s a recognized team over there and they played a great ball game.
“People were saying ‘well you beat Bald Eagle’ and all these other teams, and we weren’t challenged. But this was a good, quality win.”
At the same time, Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko was less than gratified at the end of the contest.
“It was definitely a great game. I have to credit P-O, they are an outstanding football team. They’re well-coached, and they are extremely talented,” Janocko said. “It’s hard to win every game every year, and we realize that. The better team won tonight.”
Both teams put up big numbers, combining for nearly 750 yards of offense on the night. Despite Clearfield having the strong advantage in time of possession, it was P-O’s quick scoring offense that was a major difference in the game. All of the Mounties offensive scoring drives lasted no more than four minutes, but ate up big yardage thanks to the run game by both Michael John and Cody Lee. John ended the night with 156 yards on the ground plus one touchdown, while Lee added 37 yards of his own including one score.
Quarterback Mike Marcinko was major on both sides of the ball, throwing for 91 yards and two touchdowns, while also returning an interception for a touchdown.
“Mike did a great job offensively and defensively. He’s the field general when he’s out there, whether under center or in the secondary. Just a great game by him,” Vroman said.
Clearfield again had a strong night offensively, as Beau Swales ran for 120 yards on the ground, scoring all five touchdowns for the Bisons. Quarterback Curtis Frye had 201 yards passing and 59 yards rushing.
After P-O was forced to punt on it’s first drive, the Bisons made the first miscue of the evening on a third down play. Backed up toward their own end zone, Frye looked across the middle for an open man, but the throw was ill-advised as it was surrounded by blue jerseys. Marcinko grabbed the ball and ran 16 yards the other way for the pick-six to put the Mounties on the board first. The extra point gave P-O the early 7-0 lead.
Clearfield responded on their next drive as Frye would complete three long passes, while Swales ate up small bits of yardage on the ground. After nearly four minutes, Swales punched the ball in for the Bisons’ first touchdown of the game. The extra point tied the game halfway into the first quarter.
The Bison defense held P-O on the first two plays of the ensuing possession, forcing a 3rd and 10 at mid-field. Marcinko was flushed out of the pocket and forced toward the sideline. However he managed to get a pass off, and it landed right in the hands of John, who turned up-field and never looked back as he went the distance for the second touchdown of the game. The ensuing extra point by Alex Boumerhi was blocked, leaving the score 13-7.
Not wanting to stay down for very long, Clearfield’s next drive of the game would be it’s longest of the season. Eating up nearly eight minutes of time, Clearfield went 74 yards on 19 plays for it’s second touchdown of the game by Swales. Spencer Herrington put the extra point through, giving Clearfield it’s first lead of the night.
P-O responded right back as they would go 67 yards on it’s next drive, thanks to a huge completion to Aaron McKnight for 32 yards. It ended with John charging in from two-yards out for the third P-O touchdown. Another extra point gave the Mounties a 20-14 advantage.
But, Clearfield just would not go quietly as the next drive would provide another Bison touchdown. On a 3rd and 4 from the P-O 22, Swales found a hole down the sideline and went the distance. Herrington once again put the extra point through the uprights, giving Clearfield a 21-20 lead with a little over three minutes left in the half.
P-O responded on the next drive by going 59 yards down the field. However, the Bisons held strong in the red zone, keeping P-O to just a field goal, leaving the score 23-21 at the intermission.
Unfortunately for Clearfield, coming out of halftime, they went three plays and out. With the Mounties taking over at their own 24, it took only four plays for them to find the end zone, this time thanks to a 23-yard scamper by Lee. The extra point made it a two-score game, the biggest deficit Clearfield had seen all season.
Clearfield was again forced to punt on their next drive, but had momentum quickly swing it’s way. As the punt was sailing, McKnight called for the fair catch. Unfortunately the ball bounced right out of his hands, and the Bisons were quickly there to crowd the ball, recovering the fumble and breathing new life into the offense.
Six plays after the turnover, Swales found the end zone for a fourth time, this time from five yards out. Herrington’s kick was blocked, leaving a field goal difference in the scoring, 30-27.
“We caught a break with the punt. We needed something to get us back in the game, and that turnover leading to the score fired up the team and the fans,” Janocko said.
It would be the fourth quarter when P-O found the end zone again, this time on a nine-yard pass from Marcinko to McKnight. The score and extra point made it a two-possession game once again at 37-27, but left plenty of time on the clock for the Bisons to work with.
The crowd soon began getting loud and rowdy on both sides of the field, as it was becoming hard for both the offense and defense to hear the signals. P-O’s home crowd was into it and hoped that despite the time left, their home team would hold on.
Clearfield was able to do something with the time remaining. Starting at their own 20, the Bisons ate away over five minutes on the clock, but found themselves with a big fourth down on the P-O 11. Frye went back to pass after having the ball bounce out of Swales’ hands the play before, and tried to connect one more time with his senior teammate. This time it landed in Swales’ hands, going for six yards and creating a 1st and Goal at the PO 5. Two plays later, Swales brought the game to within one score at 37-33 as he had his fifth touchdown on the night.
P-O made it to the red zone on its next drive, but were held to another field goal, making a touchdown and extra point needed for the Bisons to tie the game.
A strong kickoff return put Clearfield on it’s own 41. Following a penalty and an incomplete pass, it was 3rd and 15. But Frye connected with Trey Jordan for the 19 yard gain, and another first down. But, Frye was sacked for a loss on the next play. On second down, Frye went back again, connecting this time with Christian Lezzer for 19 yards. Swales earned the first down on the next play, and Frye soon pulled the Bisons within 10 yards of scoring.
But on second down, the ball went through the hands of Robbie Myers. On third down, Frye went for it all, going for Lezzer in the right corner of the end zone. The ball bounced off his hands, and hit the ground. More importantly, Lezzer was down on the play, needing helped to the sidelines.
That left one play to determine if a drive would continue, or a game would end. The crowd on both sides was at a fever pitch, as the noise was shaking the stands and the fences around Memorial Field. Frye got the snap in the shotgun, and after a quick scramble looked over the middle for his receiver. Myers was at the goal line, and had the ball in his grasp. But, Marcinko timed the pass perfectly, knocking the ball out of his hands and to the ground. The Mountie sidelines began cheering and jumping like crazy, as their offense came out and knelt on the ball to end the game.
Tears began coming out of the eyes of the Bison cheerleaders and the players as they went to the locker room, but P-O’s Vroman was quick to praise the Bisons for the game they put up.
“Everyone played a great ball game. That’s a statement victory for us, but Clearfield played incredibly well. That’s a state-recognized team over there, and it’s well deserved,” Vroman said.
Meanwhile, coach Janocko was already thinking ahead to what lies ahead.
“We’ll get back to work on Monday, work on what mistakes we made tonight and move forward,” he said.
See photos of the game here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/100711game.html
Clearfield (5-1) has it’s longest road trip of the year next Friday as they travel to face Hamburg Area. Information on the remaining available discounted motel rooms and the possibility of a fan bus to the game are available on clearfieldfootball.org.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Clearfield 7 14 6 6 – 33
P-O 13 10 7 10 – 40
MOUNTIES: 16-yard interception return by Marcinko (Boumerhi kick), 9:25
BISONS: 2-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 5:49
MOUNTIES: 50-yard pass from Marcinko to John (Boumerhi kick BLOCKED), 3:28
BISONS: 2-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 7:48
MOUNTIES: 2-yard run by John (Boumerhi kick), 5:41
BISONS: 22-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick), 3:39
MOUNTIES: 37-yard field goal by Boumerhi, 0:29
MOUNTIES: 23-yard run by Lee (Boumerhi kick), 8:34
BISONS: 5-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick BLOCKED), 1:53
MOUNTIES: 9-yard pass from Marcinko to McKnight (Boumerhi kick), 10:45
BISONS: 1-yard run by Swales (Herrington kick WIDE LEFT), 5:23
MOUNTIES: 31-yard field goal by Boumerhi, 2:50
First Downs: CF-24 PO-14
Rush Yards: CF-204 PO-205
Pass Yards: CF-201 PO-136
Penalties: CF-8 PO-2
Penalty Yards: CF-42 PO-17
Total Yards: CF-405 PO-341
Interceptions: CF-1 PO-0
Fumbles: CF-0 PO-1
Fumbles Lost: CF-0 PO-1
Time of Possession: CF-30:12 PO-17:48
Clearfield: Swales-24 carries, 120 yards, 5 TD; Frye-12 carries, 59 yards; Hertlein-2 carries, 20 yards; Lezzer-4 carries, 17 yards; Team-3 carries, (-12) yards.
P-O: John-20 carries, 156 yards, TD; Lee-7 carries, 37 yards, TD; Marcinko-2 carries, 20 yards; Team-2 carries, (-18) yards.
Clearfield: Frye-13 completions, 30 attempts, 201 yards, 0 TD, INT
P-O: Marcinko-3 completions, 13 attempts, 91 yards, 2 TD; Watson-1 completion, 1 attempt, 45 yards; Lee-0 completions, 1 attempt, 0 yards.
Clearfield: Jordan: 4 receptions, 71 yards; Lezzer-4 receptions, 60 yards; Swales-3 receptions, 25 yards; Myers-2 receptions, 25 yards.
P-O: McKnight-2 receptions, 41 yards, TD; John-1 reception, 50 yards, TD; Lee-1 reception, 45 yards.