HYDE — Marking the halfway point of the 2018 season, the Clearfield Bison roared onto the field ready to hold onto their undefeated record. At the same time, the Clearfield faithful came out to celebrate another special time of the season, as on this evening it was Homecoming night for the red and black.
At halftime, Mindy Flemming stood atop the podium as the 2018 Clearfield Homecoming Queen. By that time, Clearfield had the game well in hand as they routed the visiting Central Mountain Wildcats, 49-7.
The fuel for such a strong night for the Bison came from a rather small, but extremely quick, running back named Caleb Freeland. His night on the ground saw only eight carries, but he led all rushers with 105 yards, and four of the seven Bison touchdowns. Head coach Tim Janocko mentioned this was part of the plan against the Wildcats.
“He was very quick tonight. He’s healthy again, and we put some things in for him to get some speed around the perimeter, and it paid off,” Janocko said afterwards.
However, it was the passing game that got things going for Clearfield, and it came in the quickest way.
After a three-and-out by the Wildcats, the Bison offense took to the field at their own 35. Quarterback Isaac Rumery took the snap from under center, but he was looking pass the entire way, and he looked over the middle to a crossing route by Jake Lezzer. This combination has been lethal all season, and in one play it showed why. Lezzer hauled in the pass, and made defenders miss in order to work his way into the end zone. All the home squad needed was 11 seconds to put six points on the board, with Zach Hess adding in the extra point for the early 7-0 lead.
Central Mountain again couldn’t find any room to work on their next drive, and were forced to punt again. Clearfield’s second drive focused more on the run, and it was Freeland that had the two key runs to extend the lead. He earned 17 yards to set up 1st and Goal. Two plays later, he punched it in from one yard out for his first touchdown on the night. Another P.A.T. and the Bison held the 14-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Unfortunately for Clearfield, their shut-out bid ended at the beginning of the second quarter.
Wildcat quarterback Zane Probst was able to find a target on the right sideline in Collin Jones, as he nabbed a long 40-yard bomb over the shoulder of Taye Lynch, who had good coverage. The catch was enough for six points, and Trey Gentzell then added the point after to cut the lead in half.
At that point, Clearfield then got the ball back and decided to turn up the heat as Rumery led the charge with his right arm. The drive saw seven plays, but the three passes by Rumery were all on target, as he culminated the drive with another huge pass to Lezzer, a 25-yard catch and run, that answered the Wildcats’ touchdown. Hess booted the extra point to make the score 21-7 with 7:42 remaining in the half.
Central Mountain moved the ball well in the second quarter, as they would push into Bison territory on an 11-play drive. But, three straight incomplete passes from Probst halted the momentum, and also gave Clearfield the ball back on downs.
Much like the first drive of the game, it only took one play to make an impact. But, rather than it be Rumery’s arm, it was Freeland making his signature run on the night. The sweep to the right was working, and this time it allowed the senior tailback to break open for a 65-yard sprint for his second touchdown. Hess pushed the score to 28-7 with his point after kick, but with 4:29 remaining, there was still time for either team to score some more.
Clearfield got that chance after another three-and-out by Central Mountain, and almost saw its hopes come to a major halt on second down. Rumery hurled the ball deep only to see it intercepted by Probst. But, the turnover was negated due to pass interference, and the 15-yard runoff meant Clearfield still had life.
Four plays later, Rumery made his third touchdown throw of the night, this time to Lynch from 22 yards out. Another P.A.T, and it was a 35-7 gap heading into the break.
The third quarter became critical for Clearfield as they wanted to put the Mercy Rule into effect to give its younger players a chance to get some experience. At the same time, reports were coming in of extremely severe weather that was on its way into the area. Following the halftime ceremonies, many were looking to the radar to see if the second half would get in on time, or there would be any delays.
With Clearfield receiving the second-half kickoff, they decided to run the clock as much as they could. Rumery made two final passes on the night, finishing 10-for-13, and then let Freeland and Brett Zattoni ride out the remainder of the drive, as Freeland hammered his way in for his third rushing touchdown on the night. Hess then booted in the extra point to push the score to 42-7, and put the running clock into effect.
The Bison then finished off the scoring on its second drive of the quarter, with Freeland again capping it off with a 14-yard run. Hess’ seventh boot set the final score at 49-7, and with the running clock the final 12 minutes ran off very quickly, and just in time as the rain started to fall with just over one minute remaining in the game.
Clearfield hits the second half of the season standing tall at 5-0, and Janocko himself couldn’t believe how fast the year has already gone. At the same time, he knows what lies ahead, because the heart of the schedule is now upon his team.
“Can you believe it’s already halfway through the season? It went fast, but I think we’re starting to hit our stride,” he said. “We have ‘murderers row’ coming up. I don’t know the last time we were seeing, at least entering the night, three undefeated teams waiting for us. It’s not going to be easy.”
At the same time, when he looked back at how his team performed to start the season against DuBois through Friday’s victory, he noticed his team was much different in many aspects, but it was his defense that showcased the biggest improvements.
“I think we’re getting better with the small things. Our techniques are getting better, and our offense is clicking on all cylinders. I think our defense is definitely getting better. You compare our defense now versus, say, Penns Valley, we’ve made vast improvements,” Janocko said.
Clearfield returns to the Bison Sports Complex again next week for a critical Mountain League contest as they will host the Red Raiders of Bellefonte. Last season, Bellefonte had its way against the Bison not just once, but twice, with both games happening in Bellefonte. During the regular season, Clearfield fell 55-28. Weeks later in the first round of the PIAA playoffs, the Red Raiders again had their way, routing the Bison, 62-21.
Bellefonte enters next week’s game undefeated after shutting out Tyrone in the second half en route to a 31-14 victory. Kickoff at the BCS is at 7 p.m.
- Clearfield’s defense held the Wildcats to 79 yards rushing, the second straight week the Bison held their opponents to under 100 yards on the ground.
- Clearfield scored on seven of its nine drives, but only held the ball for just under 18 minutes of the game. Each drive averaged around two minutes and 20 seconds.
- Both teams combined for only six penalties, but zero turnovers.
SCORE BY QUARTER
Central Mountain 0 7 0 0 – 7
Clearfield 14 21 14 0 – 49
BISON: 65-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Hess kick), 10:24
BISON: 1-yard run by Freeland (Hess kick), 6:21
WILDCATS: 40-yard pass from Probst to Jones (Gentzell kick), 11:21
BISON: 23-yard pass from Rumery to Lezzer (Hess kick), 7:42
BISON: 5-yard run by Freeland (Hess kick), 4:29
BISON: 22-yard pass from Rumery to Lynch (Hess kick), 0:20
BISON: 15-yard run by Freeland (Hess kick), 9:22
BISON: 14-yard run by Freeland (Hess kick), 4:47
First Downs: 10/10
Rush Yards: 71/241
Pass Yards: 132/173
Total Yards: 203/414
Time of Possession: 30:12/17:48
Central Mountain: Probst-14 carries, 38 yards; Stark-11 carries, 25 yards; Shade-3 carries, 8 yards.
Clearfield: Zattoni-9 carries, 56 yards; Freeland-8 carries, 105 yards, 4 TD; Rumery-3 carries, 42 yards; Lezzer-2 carries, 18 yards; Lynch-1 carry, 20 yards.
Central Mountain: Probst-13 for 27, 132 yards, TD.
Clearfield: Rumery-10 for 13, 173 yards, 3 TD.
Central Mountain: Jones-4 catches, 64 yards, TD; Pentz-4 catches, 26 yards; Major-2 catches, 26 yards; Shade-2 catches, 11 yards; Eck-1 catch, 5 yards.
Clearfield: Lezzer-5 catches, 132 yards, 2 TD; Lynch-4 catches, 43 yards, TD; Freeland-1 catch, 8 yards.