DUBOIS – The Clearfield Bison football team didn’t sustain many drives, but they made several big plays on offense and defense to claim the District IX AAA Football title Saturday, 28-7.
The game started ominously for Clearfield as Beau Swales fumbled on the first play from scrimmage, setting St. Mary’s up on Clearfield’s 33-yard line. However, the Bison defense came up huge, not allowing a single yard in three plays, and the Dutchmen elected to punt on 4th and 10.
“That early stop was key for our team”, said Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko.
After a 14-yard punt, Swales quickly atoned for the turnover, breaking free for a 79-yard touchdown run that gave the Bisons an early 7-0 lead – a lead they would never relinquish.
The teams traded punts the next three possessions before Clearfield’s offense struck quickly again, with a 2-play, 66 yard drive that featured a 27-yard run by Curtis Frye, and then a 39-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Frye to Christian Lezzer that gave Clearfield a 14-0 lead.
The Bison defense then made some big plays of their own, with Trey Jordan intercepting St. Marys QB David All on each of the next two Dutch possessions.
“Trey Jordan had a huge day for us, with those first-half interceptions”, said Janocko. The second interception set up Clearfield’s final scoring drive of the first half – and their only sustained scoring drive of the game – as the Bisons marched 59 yards in six plays, capped by a Swales 9-yard TD run.
St. Mary’s took over at their 11 after that score and mounted their only threat of the first half, with the key play a 38-yard run by Brian Merritt that set the Dutch up at the Bison 37. Again, however, the Clearfield defense stiffened, as Christian Lezzer recorded sacks on first and third down to force another St. Mary’s punt. Swales carried twice for 46 yards on the ensuing drive, then the Bison offense stalled out and the halftime score was 21-0.
The Dutchmen came out with a bang after halftime, as on the second play of their opening drive Justin Quiggle broke loose for a 68-yard touchdown run to cut Clearfield’s lead to 21-7. Both defenses settled in for the next eight minutes of the third quarter, with each team punting twice after gaining almost no yardage.
Clearfield’s final scoring drive came on their last possession of the third quarter, as a short punt set them up on St. Mary’s 39 yard line. Facing a 4th and 7 from the St. Marys 18-yard line, Clearfield called a trick play to put the game away – Christian Lezzer took a handoff, faked a sweep right then pulled up and connected with a wide-open Dylan Graham for the final touchdown of the day.
“We were able to make some big plays off of variations of what we normally do, and that Lezzer pass was an example…we were able to get some big breaks today,” said Janocko.
While there was no scoring in the fourth quarter, there were still several big plays and Clearfield’s longest offensive drive of the day – Clearfield forced three sacks on St. Mary’s final two possessions, including two by senior Eric White and one by Corey Knepp. On offense, the Bisons put together an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ran 5:35 off the clock, and ended any hope of a Dutch comeback.
“Eric White had a huge game for us today, I’m so happy for him. He stepped in today with injuries to some other guys and really stepped up,” said Janocko. “Jordan Lancaster did a good job on the offensive line, Curtis Frye had a big afternoon…overall we played well on both sides of the ball. St. Mary’s played well, getting their quarterback healthy really gave them a different look and we knew it would be tough. I’m very proud of our team.”
With the win, Coach Janocko ties Paul Simcoe’s District IX record for victories, with 204. Janocko and the Bisons will get a chance to break that record next Saturday in a rematch of last season’s inter-district battle against Johnstown.
“Johnstown is tough again this year, they have almost everyone back – we’re looking forward to the challenge,” said Janocko. Kickoff is set for 1PM at Mansion Park in Altoona.
See photos of the district championship game here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/111211game.html
Quarter 1 2 3 4 Total
St. Mary’s 0 0 7 0 7
Clearfield 14 7 7 0 28
C – Swales 79 yd run (kick good), 10:00
C – Lezzer 39 yd pass from Frye (kick good), 2:44
C – Swales 9 yd run (kick good), 8:51
SM-Quiggle 68 rd run (kick good), 11:13
C- Graham 18 yd pass from Lezzer (kick good), 0:19
STATISTICS (Courtesy of Andy ‘BrickStats’ Brickley)
Clearfield: Frye 2 for 9, 50 Yds, 1TD; Lezzer 1 for 1, 18 yds, 1TD
St. Mary’s: All 0 for 6, 2 INT
Clearfield: Swales 22-214 (2TD); Frye 10-97; Lezzer 8-3; Hertlein 7-19
St. Mary’s: Baker 15-35; Quiggle 8-70; Merritt 7-65; Riccodome 1-14; All 6-(minus 37)
Clearfield: Lezzer 1-39(TD); Graham 1-18(TD); Myers 1-11
St. Mary’s: none
Clearfield 1-5, St. Mary’s 3-15
Turnovers: Clearfield 1, St. Mary’s 2