HYDE — The stars shine bright when the spotlight is on them. For the Clearfield Bison, the first half of the season has seen its share of stars. The one that has been a key on both sides of the ball has been junior Christian Lezzer.
Week in and week out, the Bison offense has centered around his play calling, as well as his legs and right arm. Friday night’s game at the Bison Sports Complex saw the Central Mountain Wildcats come into town trying to make a statement that they are also a team to be reckoned with as the season progresses.
What the Wildcats got instead was a healthy dose of Lezzer. The junior stood out among all the Bison as he accounted for 303 total yards of offense as the Bison remained undefeated with a 35-14 victory.
Head coach Tim Janocko credited Lezzer on his big night, but spread the appreciation to those who assisted in his success.
“He (Lezzer) was a work horse, that’s for sure. Our offensive line did an outstanding job too,” Janocko said. “I’m just so proud in all aspects of our team tonight. We played well.”
Lezzer’s monster night saw him carry the ball 33 times for 121 yards, complete five passes for another 134 yards, and account for three rushing touchdowns and another passing. When Central Mountain kicked the ball off following their opening touchdown and the start of the second half, Lezzer returned the ball nearly into Wildcat territory, adding another 73 return yards to his stellar night.
“I have to credit the offensive line. They made it possible for me tonight,” Lezzer said of his performance.
The Bison did get their other key offensive players the ball very often, as Tyler Stratton eclipsed the century mark once again on the ground, also rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown, while Trey Jordan pulled in 119 receiving yards and a touchdown.
At the same time, the Bison defense was just as strong, only giving up three plays of over 20 yards all night. Central Mountain’s Von Walker had big numbers, rushing for 104 yards on 16 carries, including a touchdown, but Clearfield was up to the task, taking him out of the game.
It didn’t start well for the Bison as on the opening play of the game, Walker broke loose on the left side for an 80-yard run. After three more plays, Walker did find the end zone just under two minutes into play. The extra point gave the Wildcats an early 7-0 lead, the only lead the Wildcats would have all game.
“We knew Walker was an outstanding athlete, I mean we’ve seen him three straight years,” Janocko said.
Not wanting to be outdone, Clearfield wanted to score just as quickly and take away some of the momentum Central Mountain had gained. After a few runs by Stratton and Lezzer, the junior quarterback decided to go to the air, looking for Jordan. The pass, however, was in heavy traffic, and Jordan had some trouble getting his hands on the ball. After hitting off his hands the first time, Jordan kept his concentration and pulled the ball in, bounced off defenders, and rumbled to the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown reception.
Spencer Herrington added the extra point, bringing the score to all seven’s with 7:37 left in the opening period.
The next series for Central Mountain would be the beginning of their undoing. After some strong gains on the ground and through the air, a holding penalty put the team back to their own 33, where two incomplete passes forced them into a 3rd and 23. The snap went to Walker, but Lezzer broke through the right side of the line, forcing Walker to scramble. Try as he might, Lezzer had his eyes on him like a hunter with eyes on a prized deer. In front of the Bison sideline, Lezzer sacked Walker, but also forced the ball loose, and recovered the fumble. The first turnover of the game put the Bison 1st and 10 at the Wildcat 30.
That was when Clearfield decided to ram the ball down the throat of the defense. A few runs followed by a pass would give the Bison a first down, but also run down the clock. After nearly five minutes were off the clock, Stratton capped the drive with an 8-yard run into the end zone. Herrington added the extra point, making the score 14-7 heading into the second quarter.
Clearfield forced a punt to open the second frame, and made some progress on their ensuing drive, getting to midfield. That’s when the Bison mixed things up a bit, as backup quarterback Tyler Woomer made an appearance in the game. On 1st and 10 at the Bison 48, Woomer lined up in the gun, with Lezzer to his left and Stratton to his right, three wide receivers at his disposal.
At the snap, the handoff went to Lezzer, but he suddenly switched his grip, and went from running back to quarterback. The halfback pass suddenly went high in the air, and it was Jordan reeling in the ball down the sideline, eventually getting pushed out of bounds, but not before the Bison had 1st and Goal at the Wildcats three. On the next play, Lezzer called his own number, scoring his first rushing touchdown of the night. Another extra point made the score 21-7.
Things suddenly went tough for the Bison, as despite forcing a punt on the next possession, Jordan muffed the fair catch, and the recovery went to Central Mountain, giving them a fresh set of downs deep in Bison territory.
On first down, Walker went looking for Tyler Pavalko over the center of the field, gunning for a touchdown. But, his receiver lost his footing, and rather than being a touchdown, the ball was picked off by Dylan Graham right on the goal line. Graham tried to make a return out of the interception, but only managed to get out of the end zone.
However, the drive that ensued would ultimately be the defining drive of the game. The Bison would proceed to go 98 yards on 12 plays, running off over four minutes on the clock, and capping the drive off with Lezzer getting his second rushing touchdown of the night. The extra point made the score 28-7 heading into halftime.
Coming out of the break, Clearfield got the ball, wasting no time in wanting to make a statement. It was nothing but runs for five plays, as Lezzer finished the drive with a 1-yard plunge into the black turf. Herrington booted the extra point one more time, giving the home squad a four-touchdown lead.
On the next possession, Central Mountain did manage some momentum thanks to the running of Walker, Drew Alexander, and Blaze Buckwalter, with Buckwalter scoring his lone touchdown of the game on a 22-yard rumble. The extra point would make the score 35-14 with 7:15 to play in the third quarter, which it would remain for the rest of the contest. In fact, after the touchdown by Buckwalter, Central Mountain would only have the ball for three minutes in the remainder of the game.
Clearfield would rely on the run game to wear down the defense and run down the clock, and despite not scoring, the plan worked.
Sitting at 5-0, the Bison now enter the month of October in the lead in the MAC conference, as the team they were tied with entering Friday night, Bald Eagle Area, was shut out by Central.
Next Friday, the Bison host the Bellefonte Red Raiders (2-3). It will be homecoming night at the Bison Sports Complex, with kickoff coming at 7 p.m.
See photos of the game here: http://www.clearfieldfootball.org/092812Game.html
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Central Mountain 7 0 7 0 – 14
Clearfield 14 14 7 0 – 35
WILDCATS: 1-yard run by Walker (Noll kick), 10:16
BISON: 31-yard pass from Lezzer to Jordan (Herrington kick), 7:37
BISON: 8-yard run by Stratton (Herrington kick), 1:13
BISON: 3-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 10:55
BISON: 6-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 2:03
BISON: 1-yard run by Lezzer (Herrington kick), 10:19
WILDCATS: 22-yard run by Buckwalter (Noll kick), 7:15
GAME STATISTICS (Central Mountain/Clearfield)
First Downs: 10/18
Rush Yards: 217/249
Pass Yards: 40/134
Total Yards: 257/383
Penalty Yards: 85/55
Fumbles Lost: 1/1
Time of Possession: 15:59/32:01
Central Mountain: Walker-16 carries, 104 yards, TD; Buckwalter-8 carries, 51 yards, TD; Alexander-7 carries, 48 yards; Renninger-1 carry, 14 yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-33 carries, 121 yards, 3 TD; Stratton-17 carries, 121 yards, TD; Woomer-4 carries, 9 yards; Graham-1 carry, (-4) yards.
Central Mountain: Walker-5 for 16, 40 yards, 2 INT; Turchetta-0 for 2, 0 yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-5 for 10, 134 yards, TD, INT.
Central Mountain: Pavalko-3 receptions, 16 yards; Renninger-2 receptions, 24 yards.
Clearfield: Jordan-3 receptions, 119 yards, TD; Lord-1 reception, 10 yards; Stratton-1 reception, 5 yards.