HYDE — After spending the first two weeks wearing the road white colors, the Clearfield Bison finally had the opportunity to play in front of the home crowd, as the Bison fans and students came out for the “White Out” Make-a-Wish night. The opposition across the field was a nemesis that handed head coach Tim Janocko his first loss a season ago, the Central Dragons.
Early on, the game looked even between the teams, but the Bison then turned up the heat, and took advantage of miscues and momentum, holding onto their undefeated season with a 42-14 triumph.
Neither team found much going early on in the game as the skies were still setting when the ball kicked off, and it took almost the entire quarter for either team to actually secure a score. Clearfield would be the one to open up the scoring, beginning with the ball at the mid-field mark.
Methodical play calling and some hard running by Brett Zattoni set up Clearfield inside the Dragon 10, and shortly after it was last week’s District IX Player of the Week, Caleb Freeland, rolling into the end zone for the opening touchdown on the night. Zack Hess was true to form to push the lead to 7-0, where it remained through the remaining 69 seconds of the first quarter.
Central still was not willing to yield, and they trusted their best player, senior quarterback Noah Muthler, to get them there, as he capped off the ensuing possession with a 1-yard plunge. Austin Keith added the extra point to even the scoring with 8:30 remaining in the half.
The Bison needed to find a way to get back on top in the game, and what they decided was to rely on the legs of Zattoni, Freeland, and Isaac Rumery to grind away at the Dragon defense.
At the 3:35 mark of the second quarter, Rumery cashed in on the ground-and-pound offense as he rambled in from three yards out to put Clearfield back on top. The 14-7 gap after Hess put through the point after seemed to be a turning point, but the ensuing drive ensured it.
Muthler found himself pressured and let an errant pass go, and it ultimately landed in the hands of Jake Lezzer, making a high grab above his receiver to snag the interception and put Clearfield in a strong position to extend the lead.
Clearfield pounced, finishing off the ensuing possession with Zattoni adding on his first touchdown of the night with just four ticks left on the clock. Hess again added the point after, and the 21-7 gap was a very healthy advantage heading into halftime…or was it?
Ryan Lazauskas elected to squib the kickoff to the Dragons, and the ball bounced right off one of the up backs, and suddenly the Bison landed on the loose ball. In one of the ultimate twists of fate, Clearfield had an opportunity to either run out the clock, knowing they were receiving the second half kickoff, or take a gamble and go for the “rocket play,” as Michigan State did years ago against Wisconsin.
Following a timeout, Clearfield’s offense came onto the field for one last play, and Rumery was the focus. With one of the best throwing arms in the Mountain League, the snap went to the senior quarterback, and he launched his own prayer pass to the black turf in the end zone.
White and black jerseys were there, all making a leap to get the ball, or knock it down.
In all the commotion, Taye Lynch reached up and latched onto the pigskin, and somehow came down with both feet in bounds for one of the wildest touchdown passes in this young 2018 season, and possibly the craziest touchdown pass thrown by Rumery since last week to Lezzer against Penns Valley. No time remained on the clock, and Hess added one more to the tally, as the teams headed to the locker room with the score 28-7.
Coming out of the locker room, it was clear what the Bison intended to do…ride, ride, and ride.
That meant ride the clock, ride the offensive line, and ride the running game to shorten the amount of time the opposition had the ball. That is exactly what the Bison did on the opening second-half drive, riding the clock till half the quarter was complete, and running off the yardage on eight plays, capping it off with a 1-yard push to the goal line by Zattoni to add his second touchdown on the night.
The 35-7 lead was more than enough as the Bison again forced another Dragon mistake on an Aaron Hoover fumble, as Spencer Graham came up with the recovery to give Clearfield a chance to put the game away and truly ride the clock out the last part of the night.
That came once again thanks to Zattoni as he added on his third touchdown on the night to pad the Bison lead even more. Zattoni was the leading rusher for the Bison, passing the century mark with 110 yards on 18 carries.
Hess added in the extra point, and at that moment the officials instituted the “Mercy Rule” running clock for the remainder of the game.
Central added on one last touchdown in the final quarter when Muthler connected with Braden Kitt on the lone touchdown pass from the Dragons, and the extra point made it the 42-14 final as both Clearfield and Central began having the reserves come in to close out the night.
The Bison (3-0) now have their third road trip in a matter of four weeks as they will travel to Huntingdon next Friday. The Bearcats stand at 1-2 after losing a close battle against Susquehanna Township, 26-21. However, the Bearcats did achieve a 45-27 triumph over Clearfield at the Bison Sports Complex one season ago.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Central 0 7 0 7 – 14
Clearfield 7 21 14 0 – 42
BISON: 8-yard run by Freeland (Hess kick), 1:09
DRAGONS: 1-yard run by Muthler (Keith kick), 8:30
BISON: 3-yard run by Rumery (Hess kick), 3:35
BISON: 6-yard run by Zattoni (Hess kick), 0:04
BISON: 37-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Hess kick), 0:00
BISON: 1-yard run by Zattoni (Hess kick), 5:58
BISON: 1-yard run by Billotte (Hess kick), 0:46
DRAGONS: 38-yard pass from Muthler to Kitt (Keith kick), 6:24