TYRONE — The Clearfield Bison thus far in the 2016 season have seen it all when taking to the field. Teams have thrown everything they could to throw the black and red-clad team off, and yet the Bison have found a way to come out on top in all but one of those contests.
The only wrinkle that has not come into play at all during the season is an element that isn’t about play on the field, but rather what’s in the skies. Friday night, the Bison went on their next-to-last road trip of the season to face the Golden Eagles of Tyrone, on a night where Tyrone was celebrating homecoming.
Looking up, the clouds began thickening as the fans began filing in for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Things looked decent early on, but as the quarters began to count down, the clouds above decided it was time to play their card. The final 24 minutes of play saw rain pelt the field and the players, ultimately making a big difference in how the game was played.
How it effected the game was keeping both teams off the scoreboard, meaning the game was decided in the first 24 minutes. In that time, it was all about one player helping account for three of the four scores for Clearfield. Quarterback Issac Rumery utilized his legs, his arm, and his eyes to help lead Clearfield to a 22-3 victory over the Golden Eagles, the sixth consecutive win of the season for Clearfield.
“Rumery had a great game, and our offensive line did a great job for him,” head coach Tim Janocko said afterwards. “We were able to throw the ball pretty effectively in the first half. That was a big difference.”
Rumery’s right arm got a workout in the first two quarters, with eight of his nine completions coming in the first half. He totaled 155 yards passing, tossing one interception but also finished with two touchdown passes. Yet that wasn’t all, because the young quarterback also put his legs to work and added in another 66 yards rushing, including one rushing touchdown.
The game started with a big swing in momentum on the very first play. Tyrone quarterback Denver Light was looking to strike early and went back to pass. The problem was he threw the ball directly into the defense, which left the door open for Ryan Lezzer to snatch the ball from the air and give Clearfield possession deep in Tyrone territory.
The Golden Eagle defense dug in their cleats and halted Clearfield just nine yards from the end zone. Rather than try for a fourth down pass or run, Janocko decided to bring Josh Serena out and let him start the scoring.
His 26-yard field goal attempt split the uprights and gave Clearfield the early lead.
“I wanted to come away with points. We had such a nice drive there, I just wanted to come away with points on the board,” Janocko said of the field goal decision.
Both teams would dig in deep through the rest of the first quarter, but Clearfield again found itself with strong field position late in the quarter. Unfortunately, a costly penalty pushed the Bison back, and despite the effort, the drive was at a stand-still looking at a 4th and 14 on the Tyrone 26.
Enter Rumery. The young quarterback made his first impact on the game on the ensuing play, as he found Ryan Lezzer on a swing route on the right side of the field, and Lezzer did the rest, scoring the first touchdown of the night. Serena’s extra point put the score at 10-0 as it remained entering the second quarter.
Tyrone had its best drive of the game to start the second quarter, going seven plays down the field to the Bison 10. However, the defense stood up when it mattered most and pushed Light back on third down to keep the Golden Eagles out of the end zone.
The drive didn’t come away empty handed for Tyrone, as Ethan Vipond booted the 27-yard field goal barely through the uprights, actually hitting off the crossbar, to cut the deficit back to one score with 9:24 left in the half.
Clearfield’s next drive had its own setback after getting into Tyrone territory. Rumery was sacked back at the 36-yard line, and forced a 2nd and 19. Yet, the young quarterback didn’t panic. Instead, he trusted his offensive line to keep him protected long enough to make a big play.
Despite the rain starting to fall, Rumery found his tight end, Mason Royer, getting behind the secondary down the right sideline. He would launch a pass over the top, and it found its mark. Royer pulled in the long pass to make the game a two-score gap once again, despite Serena’s extra point being slightly blocked to pull it left.
The Golden Eagles still had trouble getting field position on their side, but had it not been for an illegal block on the ensuing punt, Tyrone would not force the Bison deep into their territory. But, even starting at their own 15, the worst field position the Bison had the entire night, Clearfield picked apart the Golden Eagle defense on the ground and in the air.
Rumery decided that this time, instead of finishing the drive using his arm, he relied on his feet to cap it off.
Faced with a 1st and 10 at the Tyrone 21, Rumery was forced to escape the pocket when no receiver got open. That choice paid dividends because he broke past the linebackers and the secondary to finish the 85-yard drive in the end zone.
“Rumery is getting better every week. He’s showing up in some big games, made some great plays,” Janocko said. “He’s mobile, and extends plays.”
Unfortunately, his two-point conversion pass was knocked away. Heading into the locker room, the 22-3 gap seemed more than enough, but everyone was unsure of what to expect in the final 24 minutes.
What ultimately made the difference in how the second half would go was the skies.
During the halftime performances by the bands, the cloud cover opened up for good. Rain began falling, and soon the sprinkles became drops, and the drops became a downpour. Fans on both sides opened umbrellas, slid into their ponchos, or decided to just stay under cover for a while. The Bison coaches decided when the skies called for rain, it was best to trust the legs of their running backs.
“When it got into this stuff, we decided we needed to pound the ball,” Janocko said.
The decision to pound the ball at the defense meant a healthy dose of Seth Caldwell. After being held in check to just under three yards per carry in the first half, Caldwell broke out to lead either team in rushing with 115 yards on the ground. The Bison ran the ball for 174 yards in the second half, and kept the time of possession statistics in their favor, taking time off the clock and shortening the game.
“The conditions dictated what we were doing in the second half. But I was happy with how we played in the first half, and in the second half we had the drives that kept the ball in our hands,” Janocko said. “I would’ve liked to have converted a few more times, but we did our job.
“Tyrone is a good football team, and I just felt we needed to keep the ball in our hands.”
To go with the shortened game and all the rushing yards, the Bison defense was swarming the Golden Eagles all night, holding Tyrone to 123 total yards, and forcing the one turnover, and keeping their offense out of the end zone.
“That was a great job by our defense. We have been working on getting to the football with our linebackers, and our kids make plays,” Janocko said.
With the game in hand, Clearfield let sophomore Ty Bender get some carries late in the final quarter, a wise choice as he rushed for 53 yards on just four totes, but more importantly stayed in bounds to let the clock wind to the point where all Rumery had to do was take a final kneel and seal the victory.
At 6-1, Janocko is extremely pleased where his team is standing this late in the season, but also knows that in the Mountain League, any team can win at any given moment.
“It feels good. The Mountain League this year is tough, but every year it is tough in this league, but it just seems this year everyone is particularly good. So to be 6-1, it feels pretty good,” he said.
Clearfield’s final road game of the regular season is next Friday when they travel to Bald Eagle Area.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Clearfield 10 12 0 0 – 22
Tyrone 0 3 0 0 – 3
BISON: 26-yard field goal by Serena, 8:00
BISON: 26-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Serena kick), 3:28
GOLDEN EAGLES: 27-yard field goal by Vipond, 9:34
BISON: 36-yard pass from Rumery to Royer (Serena kick WIDE LEFT), 6:14
BISON: 21-yard run by Rumery (Pass Incomplete), 0:56
First Downs: 17/7
Rushing Yards: 243/66
Passing Yards: 155/57
Total Yards: 398/123
Time of Possession: 33:07/14:53
Clearfield: Caldwell-23 carries, 115 yards; Rumery-11 carries, 66 yards, TD; McGonigal 7 carries, 16 yards; Bender-4 carries, 53 yards; Lezzer-2 carries, (-7) yards; Team-2 carries, (-2) yards.
Tyrone: Loose-10 carries, 30 yards; Light-9 carries, 36 yards.
Clearfield: Rumery-9 for 17, 155 yards, 2 TD, INT.
Tyrone: Light-5 for 18, 57 yards, INT.
Clearfield: Lezzer-6 catches, 110 yards, TD; Royer-1 catch, 36 yards, TD; Graham-1 catch, 13 yards; Caldwell-1 catch, 6 yards.
Tyrone: Weaver-3 catches, 34 yards; Lewis-1 catch, 13 yards Mitchell-1 catch, 10 yards.
|08/26||@ DuBois||20 – 30||0 – 1|
|09/02||@ Penns Valley||21 – 7||1 – 1|
|09/09||CENTRAL||30 – 28||2 – 1|
|09/16||@ Huntingdon||35 – 21||3 – 1|
|09/23||CENTRAL MOUNTAIN||28 – 7||4 – 1|
|09/30||BELLEFONTE||28 – 0||5 – 1|
|10/07||@ Tyrone||22 – 3||6 – 1|
|10/14||@ Bald Eagle Area|